Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Deputy - C. M. Albrecht, Author

Chef Merle Blanc's Secret Potato Salad Recipe

2 med. potatoes
1 hard-boiled egg, cut into cubes
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1/3 cup celery, chopped
1/3 cup sweet relish
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. mustard
Seasoning salt to taste

Boil potatoes until tender.  Cool, peel and cut into 1" cubes.  Makes about 2 cups.  Blanch onion and celery in boiling salted water for one minute.  Drain.  Fold all ingredients together and refrigerate in a covered bowl.  Serves 4

You should keep these salads refrigerated and preferably consumed the same day.  If the Macaroni Salad becomes dry and/or sticky, a few drops of milk blended in may help.
For boiling your egg, place egg in salted gently boiling water for 14 minutes.  Cool quickly in cold water and roll around to gently crack the shell all over and peel.  Cooking too long results in dark green edges around the yolk.

But wait!  There's more!  This recipe works equally well to make a Macaroni Salad.  Just substitute two cups of cooked salad macaroni.  (One cup of uncooked macaroni should give you 2 cups cooked.)  If you prefer your salad a bit more tart, substitute Dill Relish or minced Dill Pickles for the Sweet Relish.
To add that special gourmet touch to either of the above, you may add your choice of chopped Parsley, Olives, Capers or chopped and blanched Red and/or Green pepper.  Some like minced cooked bacon.

The Potato Salad recipe is just one of the famous Chef Merle Blanc's dishes.  It's your creation now.  Make it the way you like!  You can read more about Chef Merle Blanc in "Deadly Reception" by C. M. Albrecht.  Bon appétit!

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

Just half a block from the sub-station, crossing the railroad track, Wayne's eyes caught sight of a wiry bandy-legged little guy walking along by the track.  The man limped slightly, and from the look of his oversize coat and unshaven face, he was obviously down and out.  As he neared the man, he stopped and leaned out of his side window, said, "Howdy."  The little man stopped abruptly, looked over at Wayne sitting in his cruiser and hesitated.  he looked as if he was debating whether to stay or run.  "Hi," the stranger said.  "You're new around here," Wayne said swerving his vehicle to a stop in front of the man.  "Just passing through," he said.  "I been looking for work."  "What kind of work do you do?" inquired Wayne.  "Oh...most anything.  "My name's Deputy Terwilliger, but most folks call me Wayne.   "I'm Ray Stark from Montana," the man said.  "Well, what I was thinking, Ray, is that I'm tied up here in town so much of the time.  You know, a sheriff's always on duty, and my wife, Janie, she's alone out there at the farm all day with all those chores to take care of.  I was just thinking, I can't offer much in the way of money, but we do have a spare room.  I've been using it for storage, but we could clear it out and make up a little room for you there and my Janie's a good cook." Wayne said to him.  "As to wages, I just need maybe enough to keep me in a few things."  replied Ray.  The two men shook hands as Wayne said, "Come on.  We'll get in the cruiser and I'll take you out there.  It isn't far." 

This was the hiring of Ray by Deputy Terwilliger to help his wife Janie with the chores around their farm.
Ray couldn't believe his luck in finding a job and by a Deputy to boot.  This was going to make his life so much easier... so he thought.  What he was unaware of was that the Deputy had other 'chores' in mind for Ray and they weren't exactly up to Ray's liking.

What the Deputy lacked in morals he made up for in his bravery.  When the bank in Franklin was robbed, he showed no fear in going after the robbers.  He had a loving wife at home, Sandy in town, a job that made him proud and the 'respect' of those around him.  So when he read about a bus load of convicts escaping after killing the driver, he came up with a plan and Ray fit in perfectly.  A plan that would give him the freedom to do and have everything he wanted, and deserved.

This book kept me on the edge.  I was able to come up with Ray's fit into the story but I had no idea as to how he would handle what had been planned for him to do for Wayne.  The ending was a bit of a surprise for me.  Loved this book as much as I've loved all books I've read by this Author.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Dark Before Dawn - Laurie Stevens, Author

Chocolaty Caramel Pecan Bars
(In honor of the book series, which is dark and
   deals with mental issues!)

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 Tbsp. whipping cream
1 cup all purpose or unbleached flour

24 vanilla caramels (unwrapped)
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups pecan halves (or pieces)

1 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips or semi-sweet
2 Tbsp. whipping cream

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Line an 8 or 9 inch square pan with parchment paper.  If you don't have parchment paper, grease the pan.  In a medium bowl, combine powdered sugar, 1/2 cup butter and 1 Tbsp. whipping cream until well blended.  Add flour and mix until crumbly.  With floured hands, press evenly into pan.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until firm to the touch.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine caramels and 1/3 cup whipping cream.  Cook over low heat until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat.  Add pecans and stir well to coat.  Immediately spoon over baked crust, spreading carefully to cover but not rip the crust.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt 1 Tbsp. butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly until melted.  Stir in 2 Tbsp. whipping cream.  Drizzle over filling.  Refrigerate 1 hr. or until the filling is firm.  Cut into bars.  (You can also toss the topping ingredients in a microwavable cup, heat and stir until it's smooth enough to drizzle.)

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

Dr. B sniffed and repositioned his glasses atop his nose.  "This last case you were on - you assaulted a grandmother."...  "Grandma had a twelve-gauge shotgun lying on a table in plain view from the front door.  Her drug-pushing grandson lives with the old lady and was a known gang-banger.  Grandma was very agitated with me.  Now, what am I supposed to think?" ... Dr. B chose his words carefully.  "But did you think first, Gabe?  When you pushed her, she fell and broke her hip.  She's an eighty-year old"...  "In a separate case two weeks ago," Dr. B said, "you nearly throttled a fifteen-year-old boy."...  "Then let's talk about the young man who was shot at that Halloween party you responded to when you were in uniform."

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Detective Gabriel McRay has seen and even created his share of problems.  Enough so that he has been sent to the department's psychiatrist Dr. Berkowitz, better known as Dr. B.  Gabe's problems are showing through his temper but Dr. B feels it goes a lot deeper than that.  He feels Gabe's problems stem from a deeply suppressed past.  Gabe is not only suffering from his temper but also blackouts which leave him not knowing where he has been nor what he has done.  And to top it all off, someone has gone on a murdering spree that always ends with a message being left for Gabe with the 1st one reading "We are one."

As Gabe's memory starts to surface he finds himself wondering if he could possibly be the killer.  Is this what he does when he blacks out?  Turns out that Gabe isn't the only one with these same thoughts.  Some of his fellow officers are having the same thought.  As the murders and notes continue with each becoming more and more morbid the suspicion reaches the point that the department has decided put a watch on him.

This book isn't for the weak.  It's graphic and nothing is held back but it's also one of the best books I've read in some time.  I had a very hard time putting it down after reading the Prologue.  I could see it being a great story for Criminal Minds.  Now I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series Deep into Dusk.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Murder in Paradise - Larry K. and Lorna Collins, Authors

Larry's Hawaiian Pineapple Boats
(The big trick is to cut the pineapple as shown in the photo)

Cut off most of the top, leaving only a few inches of green.  Quarter the entire pineapple lengthwise.  Cut under the core in a straight line, and then along the outer edge of the fruit. (Larry usually has to do one side at a time.)  Cut the fruit crosswise in about 1" sections, leaving the pieces intact in the shell.  Push alternate sections to each side as shown.

Now for the fun part!  Garnish each section with either a maraschino cherry or a mandarin orange slice (or both) on a toothpick.  When all slices have been garnished, insert toothpick and sprinkle coconut over the whole thing.

This is a finger food and perfect for an appetizer or dessert.  (Warning:  if the pineapple is especially juicy, it can become stick - but SO good!)

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

"But you're retired," she objected several times during the discussion.  "You're not getting into any dangerous work, are you?"  "No," I insisted.  "I'm just helping Detective Duke with investigative procedures, evidence gathering protocol, that kind of thing.  Police in Hawaii don't get many high-profile cases, and Duke wants me to train their people in some of the NYPD procedures."  I didn't tell her I would be the special investigator... There are two kinds of police officers' wives: one wants to know everything, usually keeping a radio scanner on all day; the other doesn't want to know anything.  Gerry was the second.

Agape Jones retired from the NYPD after taking a bullet in the thigh.  Looking for a quieter life, he and his wife Gerry moved to Hawaii but that quiet was disrupted when he and the other members of an outrigger canoe racing team found a body floating about a mile from the shore.  The body turned out to be the son of State Senator Thomas Fowler. 

Due to his knowledge of police work, Detective Duke recommended Agape to the Senator as the person to hire to investigate his son's death.  His biggest problem was convincing Gerry that this was nothing more than an advisory position and he would be in no danger at all.

Murder in Paradise has taken me back to Hawaii in my reads.  The Authors have made me not only feel a part of the scenery but also an investigator.  I tossed around the suspects trying to decide who would benefit and how.  I suspected the girl friend, brother and even the Senator himself.  Then there was the mystery blond.  Could she have committed this murder and if so why?  And what about the surf board makers?  Could they be involved and if so why?  The list kept going on and in the end... I have to admit I was a bit surprised.  This is yet another light read mystery that takes you on a trip across the ocean.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Legacy of the Tropics - Mary Deal, Author

Puerto Rican Style
(A Mary Deal Special)

SOFRITO (Sauce):


10-15 Garlic cloves
A bunch of Cilantro
4-5 sweet Pimientos (also known as
Hungarian or Cuban peppers. They
are sweet peppers.) If pimentos
aren’t available, use Green Bell
20-30 Small sweet peppers

Liquefy all the ABOVE ingredients.

Salad Olives
1 14 oz. Can Tomato Sauce
Potatoes, quartered

For 2 Pounds of Meat:

(Goat meat should be washed with or soaked in lime juice before cooking to remove the wild odor.)

In a thick bottom pot, pour olive oil to cover the bottom. Heat and add 4-5 tablespoons of the Sofrito. Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes.

Add capers and salad olives in quantities you desire. Add 1 can of tomato sauce. Salt to taste.

Add the meat. Cook until half tender. Add potatoes. Cook until the stew starts to thicken and potatoes and meat are well done. Serve with rice.

If four pounds of meat are cooked, double the recipe.

Refrigerate or freeze any remaining SOFRITO for future use.

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

“Why don't you sleep in our house, Mama,” Pablo asked. “So we can be a family, like my friend Jose next door. His mama and papi live together. A renter lives in their cottage.”

Pablo, son of Rico Rey and soon to be step-son of Ciara Malloy, doesn't quite understand why the two people he loves most in the whole world aren't married and living together. Neither Pablo nor Ciara knows the secret that Rico holds that keeps them apart. Rico has promised that soon, they will be a complete family but first he has promised to take them on a vacation that will have them sailing the seas near their home east of Puerto Rico. All goes well, until a sudden freak storm blows in, sinking their ketch and leaving them struggling for their lives.

“People die at Ke'e Beach, Lillian,” he said. “Why do you keep going back there?” She forced herself to remain quiet a moment longer than usual to quell an urge to put Glen in his place. “Careless people,” she said, enunciating each word, “die at all beaches.”

Lillian Avery is an underwater photographer who has made her home on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. She has her goal set to take pictures of every fish living in the beautiful waters around her island but became distracted by the docile green sea turtles that seemed to take a liking to her, nipping at her bathing suit. Her friend Glen tags along with her and all goes well until a vicious rip current pulls them both well out to sea till losing sight of land. Will Glen’s neuroses and actual fear of water cause their drowning deaths as he loses control of his emotions?

“Hurricane season's almost over,” Ciara said. Rain pelted down outside the window. “Most likely that storm south of us will die out, don't you think?”
“All the others have this year,” Lilly said. “But every storm is different.”
This tropical storm had more to offer than either could foresee.

Ciara and Lillian had lived next door to each other years earlier in Puerto Rico but had never met. Ciara had always wanted to meet the lady next door who took much sought-after underwater pictures. Lilly had always wanted to meet the lady next door who wrote darling children books. It never came to be until some years later when Ciara moved to Hawaii with her grandson and bought the house next door to Lilly. Even though the two ladies had never met, they found they had a lot of history to share as they caught each other up on their lives.

Life in the tropics seems to be going great until the hurricane hits their island. Will these two ladies, who have lived through so much already, be able to ride out yet another storm in their lives? Or will this be the end of a friendship or even their lives which seem to have come full cycle? Will Lilly finally learn Rico’s secret that even Ciara has kept hidden all these years?

This book has taken me to Puerto Rico and Hawaii, two places I've never been but now feel like I've been there many times. It has taken me under the waters watching not only the fish but the beautiful sea turtles. It has taken me through two storms that I hope and pray I'll never have to live through in real life. Even though I've experienced all of these through reading, it still feels like it has all been real. A great book that gives you three stories, or novellas, that combine to make one incredible adventure for these ladies, a true Legacy of the Tropics.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Murderer Among Us - Marilyn Levinson, Author

Blueberry Cake
(This is an easy cake to make with blueberries or apples)

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup of flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
dash of salt
1 pint of blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all ingredients except the blueberries.  Spread dough in a greased 9 x 9 pan.  Top with blueberries.  Bake 40-50 minutes. 

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

"You're Warren Mannes, and you've no business handling anyone's money." 

Though she hadn't raised her voice, people sitting at nearby tables sensed something sensational was happening and paused in mid-conversation to gap and listen.  Lydia, usually so in control, was enraged - too outraged - to watch her words.  "You went to prison for stealing millions of dollars from people who gave you their trust.  Innocent people, whose lives you destroyed.  Not to mention that company you took down!" 

He gripped her arm.  "Stop it!  You've confused me with someone else." 

She jerked herself free.  "Oh, no, I haven't!"

"Lydia, get a hold of yourself!"  Peg hissed grabbing her other arm.  "You're spouting nonsense."

"I wish I were."  Her baby sister's face flashed in her mind, causing Lydia to winch in pain.  Here stood Warren Mannes, decked out in expensive clothes and a salon haircut, enjoying a lifestyle paid for with stolen money, while Allison lay dead in her grave!

After the passing of her husband, Lydia Krause moves to Twin Lakes, a five minute drive from her daughter, Merry, and her family.  The gated over-55 community is the perfect place for her to live out her retirement.  She'll be near Merry and her two granddaughters, yet close enough to the city to visit her younger daughter, Abbie.  But out of the blue pops Warren Mannes AKA Marshall Weill.  Six years earlier Lydia attended his trial and heard victims testify that Mannes had stolen their life savings.  Lydia's also convinced he sent her baby sister to her grave.  And here he is, acting as Financial Advisor to the Twin Lakes HOA.

After exchanging angry words with Mannes' wife, Lydia heads to the bathroom to calm down.  She overhears the retching sounds of someone being sick.  Out of a stall comes Barbara Taylor, a woman she met a week earlier.  Lydia helps Barbara to her car, and ends up driving her home and staying the night.  In the morning, Lydia returns home to find her beautiful Lexus has been badly damaged.  The hood is crumpled, a headlight smashed, and the windshield has been cracked in several places.   After calling 911, Lieutenant Detective Solomn Molina shows up and informs Lydia that her car was involved in a serious accident involving the death of a pedestrian.

This turns out to be just the beginning of Lydia's problems.  Now she's Suspect Number One for Claire Mannes' murder.  And where does Merry go those many days Lydia babysits her daughters?  Abbie has a secret of her own that will take her far across the Atlantic.  Another Twin Lakes resident is murdered, an attempt is made on Lydia's life, and all the while she's aware of her growing feelings for Detective Molina.

Now and then I find a writer who gives us, not the super macho main character, but the more down-to-earth, common, everyday main character who you feel you can actually relate to and who just might be your next door neighbor.  This is what I've found in Marilyn Levinson's style of  writing.  Her books are suspenseful but light-hearted at the same time.  I can pick up one of her books and finish it in three or four days.  It only takes that long because I have things to do in between reading.  I can't wait to read more of her work.

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