Wednesday, April 23, 2014

River Bones - Mary Deal, Author

(With Prawns)
(One of Sara's favorite)

1 10-12 oz. Trout, per person
3-4 Orange slices, thin
2 Lemon slices, thin
1 Large shrimp or Jumbo Prawn, shelled
1 Sprig of Parsley
Orange juice
Lemon juice

Clean & wash trout with head and bones remaining intact.

On a square of aluminum foil, large enough to wrap fish completely and loosely, place several spots of butter. Lay the trout on the butter slightly off center - so thickest part of fish (near spine) is in the center.  Sprinkle inside of fish with salt and pepper. Squeeze orange juice on inside of fish and close on its side. Dot top of fish with more butter.  Place prawn ON center of fish. Place orange and lemon slices over fish and prawn entire length. Place sprig of parsley on top of shrimp and slices. Squeeze more orange and lemon juice all over.  Close foil securely but loosely. Packet will balloon up when cooking.  Place under broiler 10 - 20 minutes depending on how many packets go in at the same time. Serve by gently sliding total contents from foil wrap onto plate.
Part of the fun of this meal is BONING of the fish before eating. Use a small sharp knife. Make a cut along the backbone on the top side. Either push the loose top fillet to the plate or flip it over onto the plate. Once exposed, you should be able to lift the tail and watch the backbone work loose all the way to the head, which will also lift apart from the remaining fillet.  If you have not handled the fish too harshly, when the backbone pulls free, all the other bones will still be connected and will come right out as well.

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

“The graves of two unidentified skeletons did not contain ID and personal belongings, as was the case with previous burial sites found. Cat bones buried in the graves were the tie-in with previous victims, all found with bones of a small animal. Cold case detectives identified one set of remains as that of Paula Rowe, a convenience store night clerk from Sacramento. She had been missing twelve years.

“Previous reports indicated the victims had been put into the ground with whatever they had on their person at the time. The killer dug the graves in remote areas near rivers and streams where the ground was soft and damp, promoting decay. A police profiler indicated the perpetrator probably lived within the crescent shaped area where graves were found across the Sacramento Valley.”

After great tragedy in her life, Sara Mason has returned to her homeland of the Sacramento River Delta after purchasing Talbot House, a decrepit old Victorian once owned by Esmerelda and Orson Talbot. This grand home was sold after Orson went panning for gold and never returned. After the sale of the old home Esmerelda opened River Hospice, which had been the dream of both she and Orson. It is at River Hospice that Sara meets Huxley Keane who frequently treks to Vietnam, searching not only for his MIA brother but Esmerelda’s daughter as well.

Sara loved the old house but with it came a few unexpected happenings. Someone had been trying to get into the house either before or after she moved in, or both. Someone tried to kill her and an old school friend. Then she is hit with word that the house is haunted, but this won't stop her from continuing with her dreams of making this mansion an even more beautiful place to behold. Since money is no problem, she can afford not only to complete this project but to also help her friends along the way. That is as long as she can stay alive, as a stalker leaves horrific evidence of what is planned for her.

In setting herself up as a decoy to help the Sherriff’s Department identify the psychopathic madman, Sara’s own involvement stirs her interest in helping Huxley search for his brother in Vietnam. As she and Huxley draw close, their relationship offers another chance to heal her life and to find love, but he is suddenly considered a suspect.

I had the hardest time putting this book down. Author Mary Deal throws you a clue here and there but the clues could lead you to several of the book's characters. Before I made it to the end, finding out who the psycho was, I had already convicted at least 4 others. I was surprised and yet not when she revealed who it really was. I can't wait to read another book in this series, which I understand is titled The Howling Cliffs

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fairy Tale Fusion - A. F. Stewart, Author

Fairy Tale Biscotti

6 Tbsp unsalted, room temperature butter
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp honey
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. grated lemon rind
2 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup finely chopped nuts or dried fruit, or a fruit/nut mixture

You can use salted butter instead of unsalted, but this makes the recipe’s saltiness hard to control. If you do use salted butter, you may wish to reduce the amount of additional salt slightly.
As the nut/fruit additive, I like to use either almonds, macadamia nuts, or dried cranberries. Chop the nuts very fine; it helps with the final cookie.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until pale and creamy.
Beat in eggs, honey, vanilla and lemon rind.
Add flour, baking powder and salt (best sifted together first). Blend to combine and stir in nuts/fruit.  Halve dough, and with slightly oiled hands, roll halves into two logs, roughly 2 inches by 12 inches. Place logs on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until golden.

Remove from oven and place on rack to cool.  When cool, transfer to a cutting board and slice, at a 45 degree angle with a serrated knife, into ¾ inch segments. Use firm strokes to reduce crumbling. Put cookie slices back in oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, turning once. Cool and store in an airtight container.

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

Have you ever wondered about what happened to all of our nursery rhyme characters?  All of the stories ended with "They lived happily ever after" but is that true.  Well, according to A. F. Stewart and the story land reporters, along with the story land police, that wasn't really the case.

Do you remember Alice who went to Wonderland?  Well, there was a grand wedding of the Mad Hatter and Alice last Sunday.  It was a stunning affair, utilizing a red and white wedding theme with a playing card motif.  The bride looked dazzling in a crystal encrusted white dress with cap sleeves, offset with a red embroidered sash.  Bridesmaids included the bride's sister, the Duchess, and the Cheshire Cat.  The best man was the White Rabbit.

Have you ever wondered what ever happened to The Three Little Pigs?  Well, according to reporters Spider Bramble and Aurora Gossamer with the Fairyland news, there appears to be a manhunt for the First Little Pig, in connection with a tragic domestic incident that left the other two Pig brothers butchered.  A late night dispute, over what seemed to have been long simmering family grievances, went terribly wrong, resulting in the stabbing death of two of the brother Pig.

And what ever happened to the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe?  She went missing fourteen days ago, after apparently suffering a nervous breakdown.  This is the latest in a string of mishaps, including her arrest on drug charges and the removal of her children into foster care by Child Services.  The Fairyland Police tracked her down and evidently found her trying to make a size 12 Oxford loafer her new home.  She is now undergoing psychiatric observation and rehab.

To my surprise, and I'm sure yours too, there apparently wasn't a Happily Ever After for these beloved childhood characters.  Fairy Tale Fusion will take you back in memories as you find out what really happened to Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Tom Piper, Sleeping Beauty  and even Beauty and the Beast. 

I've read other books written by A. F. Stewart and enjoyed them and this book was just as enjoyable.  Her version of these bedtime stories are not exactly great for children but they sure did give me a chuckle and I think it will you too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Memory Keeper - Larry K. & Lorna Collins, Authors

Candied Walnuts

1 cup walnuts
2 Tbsp. butter
1 - 2 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

1.  Heat a heavy bottom pan to medium high heat.  (Lucy and Fiona would probably have used an iron skillet.)
2.  Place nuts and butter in the hot skillet.  When butter is melted and nuts are coated, sprinkle sugar (and cinnamon if desired) over nuts, stirring until caramelized.
3.  Pour out on cool surface (parchment paper today).  Separate nuts and cool.

Lucy and Fiona fill small fabric bags to sell, but they will keep longer in an airtight jar.

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

"What is he doing here?"  I heard as I worked in the padre's quarters shortly after Maria and I were married.  "Tomas helps me."  The padre's voice was firm.  "I can no longer walk the grounds and warehouses, and he is good at ciphering.  Among other tasks he totals the mission products for my reports to the governor."  "Well, I'm here now, and I will take care of the mission property.  Too many Indians are employed."  He took off his jacket and laid it over a chair.  Then he turned to me.  "You may be able to help me in other ways.  Show me to the guest quarters.  My family of twenty-two will arrive in a few days.  They will require adequate accommodations."

Tomas has just met the new majordomo that would be taking over the mission.  And take over is exactly what he did as well as just about run it into the ground.  All work that the Padre and the Indians done over the years storing up grains, wine and cattle will no longer be controlled by the Padre but by Santiago Arguello with the work being done by the Indians as he makes his own family comfortable.

In the 1800s Indians were not allowed to be taught reading and writing but Fray Barona saw something in Tomas that prompted him to teach the young boy in secret, allowing him to help with the record keeping at the mission.  Unknown to Tomas, this would later lead to a future unexpected by most Indians of that time. 

I'm from the South and the southern history tells of the slaves and eventually their freedom but we're taught very little about the Indians and the slavery they actually lived through.  Even more so, we hear very little about the Southwestern Indians that were in a fact, slaved by the Spaniards/Mexicans.  This book has become an eye opener for me.  I've found it quite interesting to read their trials as they go from the uneducated to educated.  As they go from what were called property owners but the slavery that went along with that ownership in the form of all proceeds going to the government.  And as they evolve in their freedom as they become citizens of the United States when California becomes a state. 

This has been a very enjoyable reading in history but it has also been a heart touching reading as I followed the family of Tomas' mother as she lives in her old native ways and his father as he tries to bring her into the newer ways of the mission.

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