Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's Your Fault - Wendy Coblentz, Author

Tinker Cookies

1/2 lb. butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cream butter, add sugar, egg, flavoring and flour. (Measure flour before sifting)  Put dough in a press.  Make cookies and place on an unbuttered cookie sheet.  Bake 5-6 minutes or until light brown.

(These cookies are called "Tinker Cookies" because my great aunt made them every time we'd go to Reno.  Wendy Coblentz)

It's Your Fault - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

I had followed the recommendations from the exercise teacher, physical therapist, yoga instructor, and pain psychologist.  My brain surged into overload with advice.  The therapist whose expertise was human and equine neurofeedback suggested I eliminate dairy, meat, gluten, sugar, and salt form my diet, dismissing my pleas that I would starve.  A practitioner advised using the $75 water pillow for better alignment.  I spent a week of sleepless nights sloshing around on the high seas.  I began to second-guess myself with every move, ranging from how I walked to how I picked up a pencil, always wondering if I was doing anything right.  The lure of alternative medicine was leading me into the bowels of despair.  I felt batted around like a tether ball, dangling in the wind when the game was over - and my back still hurt.

When I picked up this book to read I thought "boy, someone who has the same problem I have - back pain."   Most people either know someone who has a back problem or have the problem themselves.   If you happen to be someone who doesn't have or never have had back problems, there is no way you can fully understand what we go through.   There is, of course, tremendous pain that you have no control over.  Then there is the constant moaning that eventually seems to get on everyone's nerves.  We finally learn to live with our pain but at the expense of our own sanity, which is at times controlled by meds and tears.  Then there are the doctors.  I really believe that one qualification a doctor must have is to experience back pain themselves before proclaiming to understand or treating our problem.

Fortunately for me, and others who read this book, we now have a list of just about every treatment that has been created.  Wendy Coblentz takes us through how every treatment is supposed to work and how it really works.  This book will save you so much money by giving you a choice of what might and might not work for you by following how it worked for the Author.

 It is like a dictionary of back treatments, but it's more than a book of possible medical treatments for the back.  The humor woven throughout gave me another laugh that I could relate to.  The Author's raising of a son brought back memories of my raising a rebellious daughter of my own.   This book is not just for those who have back problems, it's actually for everyone.  I loved it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dead Lake - B J Robinson, Author

Judy's Recipe for Fried Croaker or Other Types of Fish

Crush crackers or use blender (depending upon how much fish, you might need one packet or more)

Put one egg for small amount of fish, two for more in a bowl.

Heat oil in frying pan.

Dip fish in egg and coat with crackers instead of using cornmeal or fish fry.

This is how Judy in Dead Lakes cooks the fish they catch on Dead Lake. Easy and simple. Enjoy. You can use the crackers and egg instead of fish fry for any type of fish.


Dead Lake - Book 1 Dead Lake Mystery Series - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish 

'A lone cypress tree formed an eerie silhouette, but it wasn't the only creepy skeleton rising from Dead Lake.  Judy's eyes took in her surroundings and noticed many bony fingers reaching skyward.  No other boats launched.  She couldn't shake the ominous feeling that snaked through her body.

Judy Knowlton and her husband Jim both enjoyed retirement, but their opinions about fishing differed.  She loved to fish, but she didn't think she needed a boat.  He did.  The red and black Bass Tracker was his pride and joy.  Jim wanted her to go fishing with him on Dead Lake.  She was nervous enough about going in that small fishing boat, let alone on Dead Lake.  Surely nothing good could come of a fishing trip on a lake with a name like that, but she'd do just about anything to please her honey.'

Well, guess what.  Her fears were soon to become true.  Apparently a convict had escaped and was in the area.  Jim didn't seem to be too concerned.  Surely the man wasn't stupid enough to be around this swamp of a lake.  Even when their boat ran out of gas, and they became lost he felt safe.  That is until a small boat with a man who didn't appear to be enjoying himself fishing turned up.  Judy prayed that he was just a local fisherman but from the look on his face, she knew that wasn't the case.

Judy and Jim can't seem to get rid of this man who turns out to be as slippery as an eel.  He is captured and tied up by the man they met who goes by the name Swamp Rat only to find his way lose.  He defeats the police every time they come close to capturing him.  He knows the swamp like the back of his hand and why not?  He actually grew up there with his moonshine producing dad and a brother before being sent to prison.  The biggest question in Judy's mind is why is he so attracted to her property.  That too was something she was about to find out the hard way.

This book is filled with suspense, a few giggles, and a lot of page turning.  This is book one of the series, and I can't wait to read book two


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vanishing Trail - The Taking of Jonathan Bishop - Stephen Kosa, Author

Kalamata-Balsamic Chicken with Feta
(A favorite dish of Author Stephen Kosa)

·         4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
·         1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
·         Cooking spray
·         1 cup grape tomatoes, halved 
·         16 pitted kalamata olives, halved
·         3 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette
·         3 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
       2 tablespoons small basil leaves 

Sprinkle chicken evenly with pepper.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken 6 to 7 minutes on each side or until done. Transfer chicken to a serving platter; keep warm.  While chicken cooks, combine tomatoes, olives, and vinaigrette in a medium bowl.  Add tomato mixture to pan; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until tomatoes soften. Spoon over chicken. Top evenly with cheese and basil.

Vanishing Trail - The Taking of Jonathan Bishop - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

His rocking slowed slightly as his mind drifted.  He could still see her, running vigorously along the sandy beach, just paces ahead of her pursuer.  Her feet churned heavily in the thick sand as she struggled to pull ahead.  she gasped for breath while her heart pounded fiercely - her freedom just strides away.  She was young and athletic, but ultimately no match for the swift moves of the former wide receiver from Wisconsin.  with a burst of power he closed the gap between them.  It was inevitable.  He reached for her and with one fluid motion cradled her in his arms as they spilled gently to the ground.  "You run pretty fast for an attorney," she said with a thick Spanish accent, giggling and gasping for breath.  "You're not so bad yourself for a stodgy old museum curator."

A contented silence ensured as they watch the sun slide into the ocean like a giant orange ball melting into a mirror.  He would never forget that day in Peru.  It was a magical day - a day of life, a day of hope, a day of promise.  It was the beginning of their life together, the life they had both dreamed about.  But like so many dreams, reality was certain to trickle in.

He slipped the photograph back into his shirt pocket and headed inside to bed  Tomorrow would bring another long day in court - another act in the seemingly endless theatrical production.

Attorney Jake Bishop's mind seldom strays from his beautiful wife Blanca who had died in a car accident in her home country of Peru while on an archaeological trip.  She left his heart with a void but not before giving him a precious son they named Jonathan after his best friend Professor Jonathan Albright.

Jake's life was drifting along until fate hit again with someone taking his son.  Jake vowed to find him and after months of hopes that didn't pan out he felt that he would never hold his son again.   After the death of Professor Albright and the letter he left, Jake found a new hope that sent him right back where his journey began... Peru.  But not in search for his son but for the possibility that Blanca just might be alive. 

This book is a hard one to put down.  It combines romance, mystery and the black market.  I held my breath in hopes that the woman the Professor wrote about in his letter to Jake would turn out to be his wife.  I crossed my fingers while hoping that he or the FBI would find Jonathan.  And then there was Jake's old girlfriend Maggie from years back who still had strong feelings for him.  That brought questions that I couldn't wait to find answers to.  Will it have a happy ending?  Will the woman be Blanca?  Will they ever find Jonathan?  Will Jake even make it out of Peru alive?   I have to say that the ending of this book took me by surprise, as I think it will you.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Sand Bluff Murders - C. M. Albrecht, Author

(A Jonas favorite
1 lb. ground beef.
1/2 lb. ground pork.
One chopped onion.
Quarter or half each of a green pepper and a red pepper, chopped.
At least one good stalk of chopped celery.
Up to half a cup of olive oil.
I brown all this and set aside.

In a separate pan I simmer broth. Prefer beef, but chicken stock will do. You can create your own or buy liquid stock or use as a last resort, bouillon cubes, etc. About a quart of this.

In this stock as it simmers, add, a bay leaf.
2 Tsp.  anise seed (not star anise).
4 Tsp. fine basil (or you can chop your own fresh basil, which takes more),
One good-size head of garlic, chopped a bit,
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar,
1/4 cup sugar.
2 Tsp.  dry mustard

Simmer broth 1/2 hour.

Open a can of diced tomatoes. Drain liquid into broth. Give the tomatoes a little chop, or if you can, get the smaller chopped tomatoes. Add the tomatoes to the beef and continue to cook slowly.

Strain the broth into the beef mixture and add tomato paste. Probably at least three small cans. You can adjust the thickness of the sauce with a can or so of tomato sauce and/or more tomato paste to get the right consistency.

Let this sauce gently simmer for another half hour, stirring occasionally.

Pour over hot spaghetti or rigatoni , etc., and top with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese.

The Sand Bluff Murders - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

"A corpse?" I smiled.  Like a dead body?  Oh yeah!  I was supposed to take this seriously?  Only thing people killed around Sand Bluff were lots of bottles of beer and the occasional careless cat that got in the way of a speeding pickup.  I checked out the town's reputation before I ever applied for the job.  This was supposed to be a cool job with a badge, easy money and a little authority in a small town where nothing ever happens - that's what I signed on for.  Okay, let him have his little joke.  Maybe this was a sort of initiation or something.

Cheif Castillo stroked his mustache and smiled grimly.  "our Officer Ackers didn't even know the guy was dead.  Officer Ackers thought the stiff was just drunk.  He dragged the body to his patrol car and brought him in to sober up."  Chief Castillo splayed both dark hands on the desk.  "In doing so of course he totally f... up the scene and manhandled the body, so I'd say you've got your work cut out for you."  "My work?  Are you saying this is a homicide?" 

Jonas McCleary was hired on with the Sand Bluff police department as the Chief Detective.  Actually he was the only detective.  Actually they had never had a detective before.  Now that he has been on the job just three days, they have their first murder in 20 years.  Way to go Jonas!  Well, how hard can a murder in a small town be to solve?  Turns out it was pretty difficult, especially when two more bodies turn up. 

Author C. M. Albrecht has written what I call an enjoyable 'light-hearted' murder mystery that includes a little humor and a lot of questions without so much gore and strong language.  As hard as I tried to determine who the guilty person was I just about had it near the end but still couldn't connect them with all three murders.  This book will keep you in suspense and keep you guessing.  I really enjoy this Author's style of writing. 

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