Saturday, March 29, 2014

Broken Promises - A Matt Davis Mystery - Joe Perrone, Jr., Author

Portuguese Kale Soup

One of my favorites is a version of Portuguese kale soup.  This is a hearty concoction that has as its base a standard 15-bean recipe found in a bag on your local grocer's shelf.  My wife and I first tasted Portuguese kale soup when we were visiting Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts about 25 years ago, and we've been in love with it ever since.  Here's what you'll need.

1 bag (16 oz.) of generic 15-bean soup mix (it contains a pound of beans and a flavor packet)
1 lb. fresh kale
1 large Vidalia onion
6 cloves garlic
1 lb. Chorizo sausage links or other spicy sausage
salt & pepper to taste (start with 1 tsp. each)
1 can (30 oz.) crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 stalks celery, chopped into 1/2" pieces
2 bay leaves
8 oz. cooked tubetti macaroni
1 large baking potato, peeled and diced
1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)


Using a large soup pot, follow the directions on the package for making the 15 bean soup, using the olive oil to brown the Chorizo, onions, celery, and garlic (the recipe will call for a ham hock or other smoked meat, but substitute the Chorizo instead).  Add the potato, bay leaves, salt, pepper, wine and crushed tomatoes to the soup, bring to a boil.  Lower the flame and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes.  Wash the kale thoroughly at least 2 times.  Then, break apart into 1 or 2" pieces and add half to the soup *(retain the other half to serve with leftovers), letting it continue to simmer for 10 minutes.  Do not overcook, or the kale will lose its crispness.  Divide the macaroni evenly into 4 soup bowls, fill with the soup and add grated parmesan cheese to taste.  Serve with grill muenster cheese sandwiches or sourdough bread with a glass of hearty red wine, like sharaz or merlot. 

*Be sure to include all the cooked kale when you serve the soup (leftover soup can be frozen for use later with the remainder of the uncooked kale.  Simply bring the leftover soup to a boil, add the kale and cook for 10 minutes at a simmer).  Apetite!

Broken Promises:  A Matt Davis Mystery - Joe Perrone, Jr., Author

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

The man turns and starts toward her, but Maggie doesn't recognize him.  As he moves forward, he trips, and suddenly there is a flash of light and a loud crack like a tree being struck by lightning.  Maggie feels a dull thud, then a burning pain in the center of her chest; and in just seconds, nothing.  She never hears the words the man screams, his voice filled with anguish, "Oh, my God!  What have I done?"  The man shoves the still smoking pistol into his coat pocket and rushes toward her, stumbling over the pile of rubble, but it is too late.

Maggie McFarland was 86 years old.  She was dressed in a textured lavender cotton dress with pearl buttons down the front and a high collar trimmed in white lace.  The dress falls just above her satin-finish shoes with stacked heels and laces, all dyed in matching lavender.  The dress was tailored to her perfect figure seventy years ago for a very special occasion.  It's now 9:45 p.m. and she is expected at 11:00 p.m.  Her destination - The Artemis Hotel. 

Matt Davis is the chief of police of Roscoe, NY.  When a call comes in from Nellie, Maggie's granddaughter, saying that she is missing, it doesn't take Matt and his team long to find Maggie's 86 year old body at the Artemis, which was nothing but ruins and had been since its burning in 1944.  Who would murder a sweet elderly lady like Maggie?  The only thing Matt has to go on is a shell casing found in the rubble.

The name Broken Promises fits this book perfectly.  The promises, made years earlier, were broken by both Maggie and her Beloved.  Matt Davis' problem is that he will never solve the murder until he knows exactly what the promises were and who they were made to.  This was a book I read late into the night.  Author Joe Perrone took you into two stories, one of the past and one of the present, as he led you to the ending.  I will say that I was just a little surprised when I found out who actually killed Maggie.  I will also say that to me the ending was beautiful in a sad way.

I love this character - Matt Davis - and I want to read more about him as well as his wife.  Here is hoping that the stories will keep coming.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Alexander Steele Trilogy - Lawrence Johnson, Sr., Author

Shrimp Salad
(An original by Larry Johnson - The Budget Gourmet)

2 1/2 cups Elbow macaroni (low carb)
2 Tbsp. Dijonniase mustard
2 large boiled eggs
2 stalks celery, diced
2 lb. shrimp, cleaned and boiled
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 Tbsp. Mayonnaise (low fat)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder

Cook macaroni according to package, drain and cool.  Peel, clean and cook shrimp (boil until pink).  Cut into halves or thirds depending on size (need to be bite size).  In a large bowl combine macaroni, oil, shrimp, celery and eggs.  Stir in Mayonnaise and Dijonnaise.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  This dish may be served warm or chilled.  This is the converted recipe I use in my cooking classes.  It's a little healthier with less fat and less carbs.

The Alexander Steele Trilogy - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds;  A Book and A Dish

The Case of the Deadly Ring - "Listen to this boss, a stranger from a distant land will enter your life.  He will seek out your counsel on matters of health or religion,"  Steele snickered as he shook his head.   "Sugar Bear, would you please give it up?  Those things are never right."  Sugar Bear's mood was deflated. 

Oh, was Steele wrong.  It wasn't long before he was paid a visit from Julius DiBona from the Vatican City, Rome, with a mystery to solve and a very short time in which it had to be done.

The Case of the Death Dealer - "There's a guy, a big time drug dealer named Fat Daddy.  Him and some chemist got into a thing in Florida about 6 months ago about manufacturing a large quantity of pills, probably Esctasy.  anyway it ended badly and Fat Daddy had his sister offed.  Now the doctor is after Fat Daddy's next coke shipment.  If it's true, and it works, folks for Philly to Maryland are gonna start dropping dead within 48 hours after using the drug.

Steele had grown up with Trench and learned to despise him.  He was bad news but how could Steele not help prevent hundreds of deaths.  But again, time was running out since the shipment could come in at any time and even already be in and just waiting for distribution.

Alexander Steele and the Legacy of Death - It had been nearly 20 years since the double murder that spawned dozens of rumors and never ending gossip.  Some say the murders of the Mt. Airy barber shop owner and his South Philly girlfriend were the results of a love triangle gone bad; while others whispered strange tales of mysticism and witchcraft.  No matter what story you believe they all say there is a treasure hidden within the dilapidated old building.

Steele has decided to expand his club by renovating the old barber shop which was right next door.  But all work stops when Julia walks into the club.  Julia was the daughter of the murdered woman and she is in need of Steele's help to help save the restaurant she inherited from her mother and the only way to do this is by finding the missing money.

Alexander Steele tells everyone he is retired from the detective agency work and is now just an upscale club owner but his reputation for success seems to prevent his retirement.  His fast actions and quick thinking keep him telling himself, just this one last case.  As I read these 3 stories I wanted more.  I wanted to know more about his best friends Sugar Bear, Roger the Philosopher and Stan his computer man.  I wanted to see him in action in a full book story.  Author Lawrence Johnson has started that story and I'm really looking forward to him finishing.  I can see a possible Alex Cross set of books in the future.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Final Respects - F. M. Meredith, Author

Marilyn's Meat Loaf
(I really don't measure anything but you can
tailor this meatloaf to suite yourself)

Ground Beef (I usually get a lot because I feed a lot of
  people and I like leftovers.)
2 eggs (or one if you only use 1 - 1 1/2 pounds of meat)
1 onion, chopped
1 big dollop of Worchestershire sauce
salt & pepper to taste
Sometimes I add a bit of torn up sour dough bread (leftovers)
  (I'm not a fan of much filler)
Ketchup for a topping

Beat the egg then add everything together.  It's best to mix with your hands.  Form into a loaf - I usually make it about a 2 or 3 inch thick loaf and flattened on the top - and put it in a sprayed baking dish.  I cover the top with ketchup.  (at this point you could add halved potatoes of any kind around the edge.)  Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour - depending upon how much ground beef you used.  And check to make sure the potatoes are done.

Final Respects - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; Stir, Laugh, Repeat & A Book and A Dish

Doug Milligan spent part of Friday tinkering with his classic MG.  His wife, Kerrie, had been in a foul mood most of the day, no doubt because he had come home so late from work.  Rather than find out exactly what her gripe was, he elected to stay out of her way.  But when he came inside and took his shower in preparation for work, she dogged his steps.... Doug is a policeman with a wife who isn't too happy about her husband's choice of work.

Al Bertalone's wife, Barbara, flung open the front door and met him on the porch.  She gave him a big kiss... As he stepped inside, Al sniffed in an exaggerated fashion.  "Is that my favorite dinner I smell?"  Barbara giggled.  "If you mean spaghetti, it most certainly is." ... Barbara patted the place where his uniform stretched tautly over his belly.  "You're the sexiest police officer in the whole department."  Al too is a policeman and best friend of Doug.  He too is married but has a wife who not only supports his choice in occupations but is proud of him.

For these two brave men, life is getting ready to take a dramatic turn as one of them finds the body of a teenager that has been bitten in the neck and left dead.  But this is only the beginning of the problems they'll encounter as they go through their task of protecting and serving.  One won't make it, the other will, or will he?

Following Doug and Al through their daily routines... some cases simple, some actually funny and some downright scary... I couldn't help but feel for the officers themselves as well as the wives.  The constant fear of losing a husband has to be one that nags not only your heart but also your mind.  But when given an ultimatum of the job or wife, what do you choose?

This is the 1st in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series by Author F. M. Meredith.  This Author has a style of her own.  She actually takes you into the lives of each character allowing you to know them personally and their connections with each other.  After you get to know them personally you're brought into the true action of the book which allows you to continue to feel what they feel as they step into the job they're hired to do.  I can't say that I've ever read a book that makes me a part of the story as much as this book has.  I loved it and am looking forward to reading the next book in the series Bad Tidings.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Murder on the Eros Star - Lawrence Johnson, Sr., Author

Blueberry Muffins
(a Jada favorite)

1 Egg
1/2 cup Almond Milk
1/4 cup Canola oil or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup Truvia baking blend
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1 cup Blueberries (fresh or frozen)
Brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine and stir wet ingredients.  Combine and stir dry ingredients except blueberries and brown sugar.  Mix all ingredients in a large bowl before adding blueberries.  Fill muffin pan 3/4 to the top.  Sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Bake 20-25 minutes.

Murder on the Eros Star - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The Eros Star is an entertainment and pleasure ship that travels throughout the galaxy.  Jada was working a case on the Eros Star.  When she got close to solving it someone pumped poisonous gas into her quarters.  She was alive but sedated.  The doctor feels that she will be ok but he is not 100% certain and the assailant is still on the loose.

Intergalactic detective Da'Quan was on his way to the yearly Festival of Life on the Planet of Lazon when he received word that his assistant Jada had undergone an attempt on her life.  With his plans now changed, Da'Quan   speeds to the Eros Star to not only find the perpetrator before he tried again and succeeded. 

Jada had been working on a case involving a time machine.  Apparently someone had the main components that were up for sale to the highest bidder.  In the wrong hands, this could change the complete outcome of the world as they knew it and from what Da'Quan would soon find out, the wrong hands were attached to an old enemy of his.  Now he just had to make sure he stopped him before it was too late.

This short story is, I hope, the lead-in for Author Lawrence Johnson's next book and I can't wait!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sticking Point - a Logan Hunter Mystery - Susan Whitfield, Author

Seafood Casserole
(A Susan Whitfield Family Favorite)

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 lb. crab meat
2 pkg. (12 oz. each) frozen shrimp, thawed
2 cups mayonnaise
1 cup chopped onion
2 cups milk
1 tsp. hot pepper sauce
½ cup sliced almonds
10 buttery round crackers, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (175 degrees C).  Lightly grease a 3 quart casserole dish.  In a saucepan, bring water to a boil.  Add rice and stir.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Combine crab meat, shrimp, rice, mayonnaise, onion, milk, hot sauce, and almonds in casserole dish.  Mix well.  Cover top of casserole with crumbled crackers.  Bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes or until casserole is bubbling.

Sticking Point – A Logan Hunter Mystery – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

I opened squeaking French doors and stepped into the big yard now in dire need of attention.  I glanced at the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountain range, wanting it to fill me with peace and calmness.  It didn’t happen.  Instead I sat down on the terrace steps and buried my face in my hands.  A warm nose nudged me and I looked into the forlorn eyes of my blood hound, Homer.  He turned his head back and forth a few times, studying me, and then barreled around the corner of the house, reappearing with a nearly deflated football dangling from his huge mouth.  When I made no move to play with him, he put the ball down and pushed it toward me with his sizable snout.  He needed attention too.

Logan Hunter has lost her husband Chase as well as their baby she was carrying.  As she sits in the Asheville home that she inherited after Chase’s death, all memories of the past continue to flood her mind.  Then the phone rings. 

Logan is a North Carolina SBI agent and after months of trying to pull herself back together, her agent supervisor has decided it’s time for her to get back into the game of life.  Her assignment is to travel to Beaufort to investigate the death of a 14 year old boy who was known, by the whole town, as being the “ruling bully.”  Kids, parents, teachers, store keepers, all alike were no exception.  He would bully anyone to get his way.  This being said, the number of suspects that would be on Logan’s list to talk to included pretty much the whole town.    But this wasn’t all that Logan was hit with.  She was being assigned to work with Farris “Crack” McCracken.  She had been teamed with McCracken before and the two are like mixing oil and water.  She blamed him partially for not backing her up when she needed him the most which prevented her from getting help for Chase, resulting in his death.  He blamed himself for the death of his own wife and for letting Logan down in her time of need.  This assignment is something she simply does not want to do but has no choice in the matter.

I’ve read all of the Logan Hunter series and loved them all.  I’ve followed her through happy times as well as sad.  I’ve laughed with her when she went to the Mountain Testicle Fest and hurt with her when she lost her husband.   And I’ve cheered her on each time she picks up the pieces and puts herself back into action.  Each of the books gives the reader everything a good book should… mystery, love, hate, happiness, sadness, laughter, tears, and just a tiny bit of sex.

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