Sunday, July 31, 2016

Love is the Bridge - Denise Weeks, Author

Roasted Sesame and Honey Chex® Mix

3 cups Chex cereal (any variety)
3 cups checkerboard-shaped pretzels
3 cups sesame sticks
1 cup mixed nuts
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons sesame seed, toasted, if desired

In large microwavable bowl, mix cereal, pretzels, sesame sticks and nuts.
In 2-cup microwavable measuring cup, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in honey and sesame seed. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave uncovered on High 5 to 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes, until mixture just begins to brown. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container. 

Love is the Bridge - Rview by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

The phone rang redly, sucking all the air out of the room.  For a moment, Paige felt paralyzed.  Then her hand went determinedly towards the sound.  She grabbed the phone off the coffee table and flipped it open.  She couldn't live in fear of answering her own phone.  Without even checking the caller ID, she brought it to her ear.  "Hello?"  The metallic voice.  But now its edges had softened, and it was more than a mellow yellow butter with an aluminum aftertaste--like a canned soda that'd been in the sun too long.  "--the apparition cannot form, not yet.  Ectoplasm cannot cross the barrier between the worlds.  To show itself takes protoplasmic energy, more than it can gather now.  But soon.  THA DEITE ENA PHANTASMA."

Paige has been receiving strange phone calls for some time now, both at her work as well as her personal phone.  The messages are always strange and sometimes seem to be encrypted.  But she isn't the only one receiving strange messages.  It seems her friends are receiving them from her even though she hasn't sent messages to any of them.

Alan owns a jingles company.  He met Paige when she did as commercial jingle for him.  He was attracted to her as when he received a distress text from her he knew he had to check it out.  When confronted with the text, Paige insists she didn't send it and since Alan is some sort of a computer nerd she ends up feeling that he is her phone stalker.  Even so that won't explain how the sound systems finds a way to take on its own voice and talks to Paige and Alan.  Sounds to me like a ghost from the past.  But what would make a ghost want torture them.

As I read Love is the Bridge I, like Paige, blamed Alan for everything that was going on in her life.  He had written a program that apparently was thinking for itself, which allowed it to connect to any computer source it wants, including bank accounts.  Was I right or was I wrong?  You'll have to read the book to find out for yourself.  I'll only tell you that the story fed my theory almost to the end.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Mersey Maiden (Book 3) - Brian L. Porter, Author

Lancashire hot pot
(One of Brian's favorite dishes)

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg/2lb 2oz neck of lamb, chopped into bite-sized pieces
4 lambs' kidneys, cleaned, trimmed, cut into quarters
2 onions, peeled, sliced
½ tsp salt 
1 tbsp plain flour 
250ml/9fl oz lamb stock 
1 sprig fresh thyme 
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tbsp Worchestershire sauce 
50g/2oz butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
2 x 250g/7oz black pudding rings, outer casing removed, thickly sliced
1kg/2lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the lamb pieces and kidneys for 1-2 minutes on both sides, or until golden-brown all over. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In the same pan, cook the onions and salt for 2-3 minutes, or until the onions have softened. Stir in the flour until the onions are well coated with the flour.
Add the stock to the pan along with the thyme, bay leaves and Worcestershire sauce. Stir and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly.
Butter a lidded flame-proof casserole dish and place a layer of potatoes (about a third) over the bottom of the dish and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon in half of the browned lamb and lambs' kidneys, then lay over half of the black pudding slices and pour over half of the thickened stock mixture. Repeat the layering process until all of the potatoes, lamb pieces and kidneys, black pudding and stock have been used, finishing with a layer of potatoes on top. Dot the potatoes with the butter, then cover with a lid.
Place the casserole into the oven to cook for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden-brown on top.
To serve, spoon into serving bowls.

A Mersey Maiden (Book 3) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"The thing we need to do is go back to the beginning.  First of all, where did the killer obtain the Ketamine?... Next, how did the killer get into the house and bedroom without the two other housemates hearing anything?... It appears the front door was locked but the back door wasn't so there's a possibility the killer entered there and crept up the stairs... Third, we really need to find the motive for the crime.  So far you have some links to this American Company, Aegis, who suddenly came along and offered some kind of sponsorship to the girlfriend, with a job at the end... We know the murdered victim felt there was something 'off' about the company... You then have the frogman's body, Who is it?.. Then we have to take into consideration the fact that the victim's father is a senior officer in the C.I.A."

With all of the information rehashed during a meeting of Andy Ross, Izzie Drake and D.C.I. Oscar Agostini, it seems they are still no closer to determining the reason for the death of a young man who was a star on the Cricket team at the University he attended.  What started as a normal homicide quickly turned into a trip that would take them back in history all the way to World War II.  They will encounter finding a lost ship as well as a lost U-Boat that was not only on a secret mission but also contains secrets that are worth millions.

It comes as no surprise to me to find that Brian L. Porter has done it again.  I became deeply involved in the history of the German U-Boat and its cargo.  I also became involved in the murder mystery of the young Cricket player.  But what really kept me turning the pages was the Author making such a connection between a war that had happened so many years earlier and the murder.

As with every book written by this author, that I've had the pleasure of reading, I found myself not wanting to put it down.  Every page would have me wanting to go to the next with a promise to myself that I would go no further after just one more page.  Porter can write a book that is 100% fiction and still have you saying to yourself 'that could be possible.'

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Around the World in 80 Meals - Diana Rubino, Author

Potatoes Croquettes

2 1/2 lb. russet potatoes
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. onion salt
1/2 Tsp. pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 1/2 cups olive oil

Peel and quarter potatoes.  Simmer 15 minutes in a large pot of salted water.  Drain potatoes when tender.  Let cool 45 minutes.  Chop mozzarella into small pieces.  Mash potatoes well.  Stir in cheeses, onion salt, parsley, pepper, and salt to taste.  Stir in 1 egg.  Shape 1/4 cup of mixture into a croquette.  Repeat until all the mixture is made into croquettes.  Lightly beat last 2 eggs in a shallow bowl.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs in a second bowl.  One at a time, dip croquettes into beaten eggs and roll in breadcrumbs until coated.  Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat until oil shimmers.  Fry croquettes 5 minutes, turning occasionally.  When golden brown, place on paper towel to drain.  Serve hot.  Makes 6.

Around the World in 80 Meals - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Your 'virtual fantasy cruise' begins on the world famous Queen Mary 2.  You leave London's Waterloo station and enjoy a scenic train ride through the lush English countryside.  Transferring at Southampton you can only gap in astonishment at your first glimpse of this magnificent vessel.  You haven't felt this awestruck since your first breathtaking view of Egypt's pyramids.  Formalities over, you settle into your sumptuous stateroom, catch your breath and then eagerly explore form prow to stern.  As you reach the top deck you feel the faintest thrumming of high-powered engines beneath your feet and the ship begins to move.  You peer down at the distance passersby as they wave and cheer you off.  

After leaving its home port of Southampton Queen Mary 2 steams majestically through the Solent, past the Isle of Wight, and into the English Channel heading for the Atlantic Ocean.  That evening finds you sitting in the Britannia restaurant.  A white gloved waiter hands you a glorious full color menu that you'll treasure as a collector's item for years to come.

Welcome to the Britannia Restaurant:
Canyon Ranch Spa Club Selection:

Spinach and Pear Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
Stuffed Eggplant with Olive Vinaigrette, Roasted Artichokes, Cherry Tomoatoes & Pine Nuts
Berries with Lemon Curd

Appetizers and Soups:

Serving Caviar with Classical Garnish
Chilled Cantaloupe Melon Tartar, Citrus & Mint Marmalade, Basil Jelly
Steamed Black Mussels, Saffron Veloute
Shrimp Bisque with Corn Custard, Baby Shrimp
Chicken Consumme & Matzo Balls

And those are just 2 of the 5 courses you are able to chose from for your 1st day's meal.  You will feel like royalty before your trip is over.

I had the pleasure of taking a 4 night cruise once and I can tell you the menu was wonderful.  At each meal you have the pleasure of choosing from a list of items available for each course.  There were so many new dishes that I tried for the 1st time and would have given just about anything to have been able to get their recipes, but that wouldn't have been practical because they cook for so many and I doubt I could have scaled the recipes down to serving just 2.  But... Around the World in 80 Meals gives you some of those delicious recipes with smaller servings.  The one above - Potatoes Croquettes, is one of my favorite.  They are simple to make and so delicious.  They are a must try.

You'll also find recipes like North Atlantic Crab Soup, Prime Rib of Beef au Jus and Creamed Horseradish to serve with it, Chocolate Mousse, and one I can't wait to try - Fruit with a Rum and Coconut Sauce.

So take your own virtual cruise and enjoy some of those delicious dishes in your own kitchen.  Live like a Queen or King without leaving your house.  This is a very 'delicious' book to have.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Murder in Mount Dora - De Miller, Author

Recipe for Gooseberry Pie

Make your own crust –
·         2 cups all-purpose flour
·         3/4 teaspoon salt
·         1/2 egg, beaten
·         1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
·         3/4 cup Crisco
·         1/2 tablespoon vinegar
·         1/4 cup water
Blend flour, sugar and salt.
Cut in Crisco to pea sized pieces.
Mix together egg, water and vinegar.
Add to flour.
Mix until moistened and a soft dough forms.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling.

Make the filling –
·         1 cup sugar
·         3 tablespoons corn starch
·         1/8 teaspoon salt
·         2 cans Oregon Fruit Gooseberries (unless you grow your own)
·         1 tablespoon butter
Mix sugar cornstarch and salt. Add the syrup from the gooseberries and cook over medium heat until thickened in a small sauce pan. Add the gooseberries and butter away from heat, then pour into crust. Seal with crust on top.

First bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower to 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.

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

Trent Cooper, 20-year newspaper vet for the Kansas City Star has retired.  He and his photographer Horatio Cook are moving to Mount Dora, Florida.  Trent has great dreams of finally having time to write his first novel.  He finds the perfect house and discovers the perfect spot for writing in a little cafe called Stairway to Heavenly Goodies.  And that is where he's busy writing his novel when Horatio interrupts him with news that there was a body found by fishermen, in the lake.

About 75 years earlier Meyer Lansky opened up a casino in the little town of Eustis, Florida.  His right arm man Bobby Skinny Boy Aieli is the one he goes to when someone gets out of hand and things need to be 'handled'.  But with the problem that Lansky finds himself faced with in connection with one of his employees, he decided this was one he would take care of this himself. And the best place for him to handle this is out in the middle of the lake.

Then comes Meredith Archibald.  She saw the news of the bones being found and believes it to be her grandfather.  Meredith was adopted when both her parents were killed when she was only 3 months old.  She has searched for her real family for some time and after meeting with an aunt in New York she knows this has to be him.  So, after scraping up all the money she has in the world she takes a trip to Mount Dora and meets with Trent in hopes of hiring him to help her prove the identity of the man in the lake.

This book has to be one of the most attention holding books I've read.  It flips from the early 1900's to 2007. I've never enjoyed reading books during the 1900's but this book I couldn't put down.  It's full of mob history along with a story that kept me involved.  The more I read, the more I wondered if this author might have known a lot of this history 'first hand' or knew someone who did.  I recommend this one to anyone who loves a really great story, and a little history along the way.

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