Showing posts with label suspense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label suspense. Show all posts

Friday, December 8, 2017

A Deadly Fundraiser - Talk Radio Mysteries Book 4 - Mary Kennedy, Author



RHUBARB CAKE
(A Maggie Special)

2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
½ cup plus one tablespoon sugar
½ cup plus one tablespoon flour
1 – 2 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup chopped fresh (or frozen rhubarb)
¾ tsp good quality vanilla extract
¼ tsp almond extract

Chop the rhubarb.
Beat eggs until light and fluffy. 


Gradually beat in sugar until thick. Add vanilla and almond extract. Beat in flour (don’t overbeat) 
Pour into greased 8 inch baking pan.   Arrange a layer of rhubarb on the top.  Top with dabs of butter.  The cakes do turn out better if you make one at a time, rather than doubling the recipe. I don’t know why.   Of course they can bake together.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes.
When the cake is cool, dust with icing sugar.  The sweetness counteracts the tartness of the rhubarb.


A Deadly Fundraiser - Review by Martha A Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

When Christopher Morgan, the owner of Mayfair, passed away he left instructions that the house be preserved and donated to the Preservation Committee as a center for the art.  The Historical Society, along with the Preservation Committee decided to open the 1930's mansion for a "gala" to raise money for the planned Center for the Arts.  Cyrus Still, the station manager at WYME, liked to support community causes.  But it looked like Maggie and Vera Mae were the only WYME folks to show up from the station.

Maggie has a radio call-in show called On the Couch with Dr. Maggie.  She closed her psychology practice and moved to Cypress Grove to become a radio talk show host.  Vera Mae is the producer of her show and is in charge of scheduling guests and manning the phones as people call in to ask questions of the guests.  So, when this event took place, it was a good way to meet people and hopefully promote the show.

To allow everyone a chance to see the mansion for the last time before it was remodeled for the Center, the committee decided to have a scavenger hunt.  Maggie and Vera Mae were joined by a reporter pal, Nick Harrison, to search using the clues provided by the committee.  Things were going great until they went to the basement where many years before, housed a real 'speakeasy.'  While searching for their next object, Maggie placed a hand on the wall.  To her surprise, the wall slid open exposing a hidden room and a body.

I've read many of Mary Kennedy's books and she gets better and more entertaining with each.  Her books always give you a handful of suspects while keeping you in suspense as to which one was guilty.  As always she left this book with the possibility of another and I'm impatiently waiting for it to appear.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

'Til Death (Rockwell Return Files) - Jason Anspach, Author



Alice Rockwell's Perfect Pot Roast

1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) boneless beef chuck-eye roast, pulled into two pieces 
kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
1 large carrot, chopped medium
1 celery rib, chopped medium
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 cup beef broth, plus 1 to 2 cups for sauce
½ cup dry red wine, plus 1/4 cup for sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 sprig plus 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


1. Sprinkle pieces of meat with 1 tablespoon salt and and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Heat butter in heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot and celery; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1 cup broth, ½ cup wine, tomato paste, bay leaf, and thyme sprig; bring to simmer.

3. Pat beef dry with paper towels and season generously with pepper. Tie each piece of meat into loaf shape for even cooking.

4. Place meat on top of vegetables. Cover pot tightly with large piece of foil and cover with lid; transfer pot to oven. Cook  on middle rack until beef fully tender, 3½ to 4 hours, turning halfway through cooking.

5. Transfer roasts to cutting board and keep warm. Strain liquid through mesh strainer into 4-cup liquid measuring cup. Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Transfer vegetables to a jar. Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then skim any fat off surface. Add vegetables and beef broth as necessary to bring liquid amount to 3 cups. Blend until smooth. Transfer sauce to medium saucepan and bring to simmer over medium heat.

6. While sauce heats, remove twine from roast and slice against grain into ½-inch-thick slices. Transfer meat to large serving platter. Stir chopped thyme, remaining ¼ cup wine, and vinegar into sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon half of sauce over meat; pass remaining sauce separately.

'Til Death (Rockwell Return Files) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

S. Rockwell, Private Investigator
Returns and the Unexplainable Welcomed


When you think of 'returns' you normally think of someone sitting behind a counter helping people get their money back for items they either don't need or simply don't want.  At least that was how I've always looked at it.  That is until I read 'Til Death.  This is what I learned from reading this book:

'Returns' was the acccepted term used for dead folks who came back, usually due to sufficiently important unfinished business.  Who made the determination on who Returned or not was still a hot topic among theologians.

Sam Rockwell's PI business was to help these 'Returns' out so they could finish up their business and move on to better places upstairs.  He didn't deal with a large number of returns, but the few times a Return actually made his way into the office, they weren't exactly asking him to save the world.  Most cases were as simple as an executive returning to share the code for his wall safe with his business partner.  And that was the case until his mother calls to tell him his father had been murdered and his help was needed to find the killer.  Oh yeah, his father was a Return.  He told the people upstairs that he had information that was given to him to safe keep away from the Russians who would use it to destroy the US.

This book is so different from any I've ever read.  It has murder, suspense, and best of all humor.  Sam's task of finding out who killed his father and then who killed the killer, puts him up against some really rough people.  But you can't help but laugh as he deals with the Returns that pop up now and then, mainly his own father.  When I got to the end of 'Til Death I saw that book 2 was out.  It's titled 'Til Death: Second Impressions.  Yes I ordered it and can't wait to see where the Returns take Sam next.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Snow Storm - Bobby Nash, Author




Bobby's Chicken Strip Recipe
(My recipe for chicken strips, perfect for a day at the track or a picnic while reading your favorite novel. - Bobby)

I package boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins (or breasts you can slice into strips).
1 stick butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 cup fine bread crumbs

Pre-heat oven 0 o 350 degrees.
Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
Spray with cooking spray of your choice (for non-stick)
Melt better in bowl (I use the microwave)
Mix Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs in separate bowl
Place chicken in butter to coat
Place buttered chicken in Parmesan cheese/bread crumb mix.
Coat fully.
Place on tray.
Repeat until all chicken is coated.
Add light salt and pepper.

Bake for 16 minutes on 350 degrees.
Turn over at 16 minutes.
Add light salt and pepper (to taste)
Bake for an additional 16 minutes on 350 degrees.

Remove and let cool. 

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

I got a call from a lawyer friend of mine.  I helped him track down some folks a few times and whenever he could, he tossed some business my way.  This one didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary.  This lady split with her husband and then she up and moves away, taking their now teenage daughter with her.  The dad, Anthony Mann needed someone to help find the kid so he could get in touch... I found the ex.  She changed her name, which was weird and set of a few alarm bells.  The daughter changed her last name as well.  At first I assumed the mother had remarried and the daughter had taken the new guy's name, but she never remarried.  Mom works for a manufacturing outfit based out of Texas and travels a lot for the job.  She owns a small home in Florida, but also keeps an apartment in Atlanta.  My guess is that's where the daughter's living these days.  I found out she was accepted to Georgia Tech.  I've not been there yet.  Something about this whole thing didn't sit right with me so I did a little digging into both the lady and her ex-husband before I did anything else.

Samson Brooks wasn't just someone Snow had worked with while undercover, he was also a close friend.  So, when he filled him in on his search for Katie Masters and informed him that her real name was Katie Manelli, Snow's ears perked up.  Turns out that she is the granddaughter of Antonio Manelli, one of the biggest mob leaders in the country.

As Brooks and Snow go to Atlanta to pick Katie up and take her to a safe place, they meet trouble of the mob kind. The problem is this mob isn't part of the Manelli family, but of their biggest rival the Roarke family.

In Snow Storm, you'll find bullets flying and plenty of action as Snow, Brooks, Snow's brother and grandfather all try to keep the two families from killing each other as well as Katie and her mother Pamela.  It has a few twists and turns that kept me reading not sure this could be accomplished.  I must say, this isn't a very lengthy book but it is one that I really enjoyed.  It also left me with enough information about Book 3 that I'm looking forward to diving into it soon.  I'll give you a hint - Daniella Cordoza will apparently be brought back into the story.  If you don't know who she is, read Book 1 - Snow Falls and you'll see why I'm excited about her appearance.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sabotage at RKO Studio (A James Murray Mystery) - Christopher Geoffrey McPherson, Author



In the five James Murray Mysteries, the lead character makes it clear loudly and often that his favorite pie is cherry. So I thought it would be fun to share a recipe from the same period as the novels: from the 1930s, here is a vintage cherry pie recipe from Julia Lee Wright's "Recipes You'll Enjoy" cookbook.

Cherry Pie
(A James Murray Favorite)

3 cups tart pitted cherries
2 cups sugar
3 tbls flour
butter
pie crust

Combine cherries with enough sugar to sweeten, flour to thicken. Line pan with pastry. Pour in fruit mixture and dot with butter. Cover with pastry that has been rolled out thinner than lower crust; cut design in top to allow steam to escape. Tuck edge of top crust under edge of lower crust and pinch together with fingers or with tines of a fork. Bake in hot oven (450 degs F) for 15 minutes, reduce the temperature to moderate oven (350 degs F) and continue baking until fruit has cooked.

Sabotage at RKO Studio (the second James Murray Mystery) - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

... his time was running out.  There were just a few days left until the Thursday night premiere of King Kong and still no sight of the missing spider scene.  Luckily for him, the studio was otherwise humming along, the seemingly innocent "accidents' pretty much over.  No more fires, no more shredded costumes, no more missing miniature dinosaurs.  But then, the damage had already been done, hadn't it?  All productions were back on schedule.  Now, if James could only figure out what happened to the missing scene, he'd be set.

James Murray has gone to work at RKO Studio to write the screenplay for his mystery "Murder at Eastern Columbia." The rights for the movie had been bought by the studio and it was up to him to get it in shape to start the movie.  This was all fine except for a few minor problems.  One - his mind just wasn't into writing a screenplay.  Two - someone was sabotaging activities at the studio and his boss 'Cooper' has instructed him to investigate.  And three - his mind is on writing his next book.  As it turns out the two and three are becoming combined as he writes his next book about the events that are taking place at the studio.

As I read Sabotage at RKO Studio I was lost as to the reason for the events taking place at the studio.  It appears that it sits on top of an oil field so that could be the reason.  Then James meets a woman on the  streetcar who seems to get upset when he talks about the 'accidents' and leads me to believe she may have something to hide but I could see no connections.  So yes, I was baffled by the outcome of this one.

This book turned out to be a different, yet fun read.  You read the story as the events take place but you also read it in the novel form as James writes his next book.  Interesting, especially the end.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hide and Seek - Richard Parker, Author



Chunky Chicken Satay - serves 2

I've always loved this dish but my issue with it is that it's tiny.  I use 2 inch cubes of chicken thigh meat for this but feel free to use generous cubes of chicken breast. - Richard

Measurements don't need to be exact.  Adjust for your own taste and texture preference.

Marinade

1 lemon squeezed plust zest
5 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp sesame oil
2 heaped tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp Chinese five spice
2  cloves of garlic crushed


Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup creamed coconut
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
Drop of warm water.

For marinade combine all ingredients and marinade chicken for a few hours - no longer as lemon juice will break it down.

For peanut sauce add warm water to creamed coconut and combine remaining ingredients. Add more warm water or oil to get correct texture.

Skewer chicken and grill until meat is white.  Dip and enjoy!


Hide and Seek Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; A Book and A Dish

Lana heard her boy scream and shot to the back door.  The'd taken her eyes off him for only a few moments but when she entered the sunny yard there was no sign of her child.  She bolted to where he'd been sitting and found the stranger's bare legs scrambling over the fence with a sack containing Cooper dangling from his fist.  She could see Cooper twisting inside.  He was hoisted up and out of reach and her panicked wail energized is.  If she didn't act fast, the stranger would drop over the fence to the private lane on the other side.  She restrained his ankle firmly with both hands and started trying to lug him back.  Lana grabbed his clammy calf and then slammed her body against his shoe to trap him there.  Digging her nails in, she bit the skin above his heel.  She heard him cry out and she clamped her teeth down as hard as she could.  She wanted to shout that she'd murder him before she'd let him take Cooper but she wasn't about to loosen her teeth on his ankle.

Lana saved her son that day but the fear that wouldn't leave her took it's tolls on her, changing her life forever.  No longer did the home she and Todd had scrapped ends to buy seem safe.  Their move to a fourth floor apartment helped some but she still checked every window and every door at least three times before going to bed.  Her obsession also took her to an internet site called Right Where You're Standing.  It used GPS to direct you to local murder scenes.  Here she did a search seeking only those where children had been taken and murdered. She had high hopes that site would find her find the perpetrator who tried to take her son.  It's now almost a year later and the police appeared to have given up their search leaving her to be the only one to pick it back up.  What she didn't know was the involvement her husband Todd had taken on with his own investigation.  His form of involvement was one that could prove to be very deadly, not just for himself but for Lana too.

Hide and Seek is a book that will not only have you watching your own children but it will also become a book that you'll keep telling yourself "just one more chapter."  Well, that "just one more chapter" turned into another and another for me.  It takes you on a very winding road that is actually full of surprises!  The trials that Lana goes through are more than most of us could endure.  And no, I'll not give you clues, other than to say that if you like a book that will keep you on the edge of your chair, you'll want to get your hands or Kindle on this book ASAP.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Series Book 2) - Angie Fox, Author



Mississippi Mud Brownies

Brownies:
1 cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
½ cup chopped pecans
1 (10.5 ounce) package mini marshmallows

Frosting:
½ cup butter
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9x13 inch pan.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 1 cup of butter. Remove from heat and stir in cocoa until smooth. Mix in the white sugar, eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in the flour, then fold in pecans and marshmallows. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until brownies start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let the brownies cool in the pan. Try not to eat them (yet).

To make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, melt together 1/2 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of cocoa. Mix in confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the milk, a tablespoon at a time until icing is a nice spreading consistency.

Spread icing on top of brownies. Devour.


The Skeleton in the Closet (Southern Ghost Hunter Series Book 2)- Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

Ellis leaned an arm over the back of the couch.  "I need your help, Verity."  Oh my.  "This isn't a habit I want to encourage," I said even if I could talk Frankie into helping me.  It took a lot of his strength to show me the other side.  "I'm not a professional ghost hunter."  "You're good at it," he pressed.  "I almost got us killed last time."  He'd hired me to clear out some ghosts in a property he was renovating.  It hadn't exactly gone smoothly.  "I've never talked to such a new ghost."  I didn't even know if she could be found.  "And aren't you the one who agreed I shouldn't be doing this?"  He shook his head.  "You're right," he conceded.  "At some point, this has to stop.  But not tonight.  We need to know what happened in that library.  You don't have to talk to her.  I'll take any witness you can find.  The building has got to be haunted,:" he said.  "I've heard stories since I was a kid."

There has been a death at Sugarland and Ellis Wydell, who just happens to be a policeman, the older brother of Verity's ex-fiance and her new love, needs her help again in solving the murder.  Verity, along with the help of Frankie, has helped Ellis in the past and is apparently in need of her abilities to see ghosts and her ghostly contacts again.  Oh yeah, Frankie "The German" is the spirit of a 1920s gangster that was tied to Verity's land after she emptied his funeral urn out onto her rose bushes and soaked them down with water.

Sugarland is noted for it's Civil War battle where a cannon ball was fired into the wall of the library but never exploded.  Each year the 'Jacksons and the Wydells put on displays and reenactments of the battle.  This year Ellis' mother decided to have the events filmed by an historical productions company so the world would know the city's true history.  But what is the truth?  Who were the victors - the Jacksons or the Wydells?  Getting to the truth will put Verity and Ellis' lives in danger and make Verity's almost-mother-in-law hate her even more, if that's possible.

I recommend that you read Southern Spirits - Book 1 of this series first.  I did and am glad I did.  Not only was it a unique book and story but it also gave me insight as to what happens in book 2.

I read a lot of books and once in a while I run across an author like Angie Fox who writes a story that you not only read but you also hear and see everything that happens.  I felt like I was 'reading a movie.'  I could actually see the events at they took place.  I could see the characters and feel their feelings.  This is the work of a very well written story that has murder, mystery, suspense, ghosts, and yes, a bit of humor.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Diamonds Aren't Forever - Connie Shelton

This book will be released 8/14/2017.  You can pre-order at all major online retailers for just $.99 but on 8/21/2017 the price will go up to $4.99 so get your order in now!

Coca Cola Cake
(A Pen special)

2 c. sugar
2 c. flour
1-1/2 c. small marshmallows
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. oil
3 T. cocoa
1 c. Coke
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 (325 for glass pan). Grease a 9 x 13 baking pan. Sift together the flour and sugar in a large bowl, add marshmallows. Stir together and set aside. In a saucepan, mix together the butter, oil, Coke, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, then add to the dry mix and blend well. Dissolve the baking soda in the buttermilk and quickly add it to batter. Add eggs and vanilla, mix well. Bake 45-50 minutes. Test for done-ness with a toothpick.

While the cake bakes, make the frosting:
1/2 c. butter
3 T. cocoa
6 T. Coke
2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 c. chopped pecans

In saucepan, combine butter, cocoa and Coke. Bring to a boil, then pour over powdered sugar in a bowl and blend well. Add vanilla and pecans.

Remove cake from oven when done and pour frosting over it immediately. Let the frosting soak into the cake. Cool completely before cutting.

Diamonds Aren't Forever - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

The whole story spilled out.  The necklace going on loan to the Philpont Museum for a show on the royal jewels of Europe, the robbery six months ago where three armed men took the night guards by surprise and were able to bypass the museum's supposedly state-of-the-art security system.  The police working the case for the few months but leads petered out quickly.  Penelope's desperate hope that the private investigator might have better luck, not being constrained by the complexities of a bureaucracy.  Dick Stone's call yesterday that he had located her piece and would deliver it today.

Penelope Fitzpatrick put all of her faith in Dick Stone.  He has found the necklace that her grandfather had made many years before for the last tsar of Russia.  He has now returned it to Pen who decided the best place for this million dollar necklace was in her safety deposit box at the bank.  That was the day that she thought this nightmare would end only to find that it had just begun.

Author Connie Shelton held my attention as 72 year old Pen is joined by 3 other ladies that became the 'Heist Ladies.'  Their travels to find the man known as Dick Stone, which is only one of his many names, takes them to the Cayman Islands where 'Mr. Stone' posing under another alias is working his next mark.  They follow him to Zurich where he is to meet with a shady jeweler.  And on to Nice where one of the largest jewelry exhibits was to be held.  It was also the location where plans for one of the largest jewelry heists were being made.

As I read Diamonds Aren't Forever I pictured this little 72 year old lady and her 3 companions in my mind.  I admired her spiff and determination.  This was a book that was entertaining, humorous at times, and very enjoyable.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Trudy, Madly, Deeply - Wendy Delaney, Author


Sylvia's Funeral Tuna Casserole

1 lb egg noodles, cooked, drained shopping list
4 cans albacore tuna fish, drained shopping list
4 cans condensed cream of mushroom soup undiluted, low sodium if possible shopping list
1/2 soup can of heavy cream shopping list
1 cup frozen green peas, thawedshopping list
1-2 tsp celery seed or to taste shopping list
salt and pepper to taste
1 small bag of potato chips crushed

Combine everything with the cooked noodles except the potato chips.
Mix with a fork to separate the tuna into edible chunks
Place mixture in a large casserole dish
Cover with crushed potato chips
Bake in a 350F oven about 30 minutes
Sprinkle top with a bit of paprika if desired
Serve hot, chips will soften when cold.
Simple mix into casserole when reheating.


Trudy, Madly, Deeply - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of: Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and a Dish

Gloria's unpainted lips pulled back into a lopsided grin. "Weren't you the one who sold me a cinnamon roll last Thursday?"

"That would be me."

"Interesting career path."


Tell me about it.'  I just prayed that path wouldn't lead to me wearing my breakfast on my shoes before the day was over.

She grabbed a form from behind the counter and slid it toward me.  "Fill this out."

Fifteen minutes later, Gloria handed me a laminated badge with the county seal that looked about as official as my library card.

"That's it?"

"That's it, hon.  She patted me on the hand.  "Try not to lose it or do anything to get the county sued."

Charmaine 'Char' Digby had just been sworn in a a deputy coroner.  Her last job, at Duke's Cafe, owned by her great-uncle Darrell Duquette, was where she served meals to most of those she would now be working with and unfortunately some that she would be investigating.

Her first 'case' turned out to be the death of a family friend who had been hospitalized for pneumonia but turned up dead due to asphyxiation.  According to one of the doctors, this was a bit unusual.  Apparently the Doctor didn't believe her death was an isolated incident.  There appeared to be several more recovering patients that died mysteriously, just before being released.  Char's task now is to find the person responsible for these deaths before another happens.

This book turned out to be one that was so different from any I've ever read.  It was an enjoyable book to curl up with at night.  It had humor and suspense, which made it even more appealing.  I followed Char through her suspicions and agreed with her, at times.  But when the true story of what was going was disclosed I was shocked.  It wasn't the 'who nor why' that I expected.  I'm now ready to go to the next chapter with Char in Book 2 'Sex,Lies, and Snickerdoodles.'






Sunday, April 2, 2017

A Scone to Die For - H. Y. Hanna, Author



Scone Recipe
(From A Scone to Die For)


Scones have a long history, originating in Scotland in the 16th Century, and are said to have taken their name from the Stone of Destiny where Scottish kings were once crowned. They are a “quick bread”, a bit similar to Southern “biscuits” in the United States. the original version was triangular-shaped, made with oats and griddle-baked rather than baked in the oven. They have since become one of the highlights of British baking – no traditional English afternoon tea would be complete without warm scones with jam and clotted cream!

A great debate rages in the United Kingdom over the correct way to pronounce “scone” – those in the North say it should rhyme with “cone” whilst those in the South insist that it should rhyme with “gone”. Meanwhile, people have come to blows over whether you should put the cream on first and then jam… or the jam first and then the cream!

There is now a huge variety of scones, both sweet and savory, made with dried fruit, nuts, vegetables, cheese, chocolate chips – and even a recipe with lemonade! This is a recipe for a traditional English plain scone, but it can be modified with the addition of your favorite treats.

Ingredients
500 grams all-purpose flour (approximately 4-1/4 cups or 17.6 ounces)
4 teaspoons double-acting baking powder*
1/2 cup caster sugar (super fine sugar)**
125 grams butter, room temperature (1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon or 4.4 ounces)
150 ml full fat milk (just under 2/3 cup)
2 eggs beaten lightly
Egg and milk wash for the “egg wash” to glaze the scones

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 250C / 400F
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl (this is important to add more “air” to the mixture).
Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers – it is important to coat the flour with butter as much as possible. Keep doing this until the mixture has the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
Add the sugar to the mixture and mix well with your fingers.
(This is the stage when you can add in extra ingredients such as raisins and currants, if you wish.)
Add the eggs and some of the milk – do not add all the milk at once; go slow and check that the dough does not become too wet otherwise the scones will “drop”.
Mix well with your fingers until the dough forms a ball.
Tip the dough onto a floured board, scatter some more flour on top, and then knead lightly. It is very important not to over-work the dough otherwise the scones will become very hard.
When the dough looks smooth, gently pat it out (or use a rolling pin) into a thick slab, about 1 – 1.5 inches thick. This is one of the secrets to great scones – not rolling the dough out too thinly.
The dough should now be rested for at least 30 minutes – unless you are using a single-acting baking powder. Some chefs say that resting the dough for hours, even overnight, is the secret to getting really light, fluffy scones.
Using a cutter of your choice, stamp out the scones from the dough. Be careful not to twist the cutter as you are pressing it down – only twist it gently at the very bottom to free it.
Roll up any leftover dough and spread it out again – keep cutting out scones until you have used up all the mixture.
Place the cut rounds onto the greased baking tray or baking paper.
Brush the tops with the the egg and milk wash – this will give them a lovely golden glaze.
Bake in the hot oven for about 12 – 15 minutes.
Cool the scones on a wire rack.
Serve warm with some jam and butter or clotted cream!

Enjoy!

A Scone to Die For - Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of:  Stir, Laugh, Repeat; Think With Your Taste Buds; and A Book and A Dish

"You want a few words, young man?  I'll give you a few words."  Mable stood up from the next table where she and the other Old Biddies had obviously been listening.  The reporter turned to her eagerly, "Yes?  Were you a witness as well?"  "Oh yes, and I even met the victim the day before." Mable nodded emphatically.  "Really?  What was he like?"  The reporter's tongue was practically hanging out.  "Flatulent."  "Er... fla...flatulent?" He looked bewildered.  Mable nodded.  "Yes, I didn't actually hear him break wind, you understand, but I could tell just by the tone of his skin.  Not enough fiber in his diet.  I'm sure of it.  Now, all he really needed was to take a spoon of bran every morning - just like Mr. Cooke does.  My doctor recommended this marvelous stuff for my Henry.  Particularly if you're constipated or if your haemorrhoids are acting up.  No need for laxatives to hurry things along."  She looked at the reporter intently.  "Do you go regularly, young man?"

I don't normally open my reviews with such a long script from the book but this conversation is one that had to be shared.  Mable is one of the group Gemma calls the "Old Biddies."  Gemma is actually from a tiny Cotswold village and has returned to her roots and opened a little establishment called Little Stables Tearoom which is run by her, her friend Cassie and her chef Fletcher Wilson.  The "Old Biddies" are becoming regulars at the tearoom and if you want to know anyone's business, just ask them.  So, when Gemma comes in to work one morning and finds a dead man sitting outside with a scone stuffed in his mouth, the Biddies know exactly what his problem was.

This book was one I would pick up, read a few chapters, put it down just to pick it right back up.  It's full of humor as well as a mystery that kept me in the dark.  I had my suspect and ended up changing my mind several times.  When the real killer was revealed I was shocked.  Never suspected that character to be the bad one.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Silver Medallion - James R. Callan, Author



Callan's Oatmeal Cookies

Start with
            ¾ cup of butter
            ½ cup granulated sugar
            1 cup brown sugar
            1 teaspoon of baking powder
            ¼ teaspoon baking soda
            1 teaspoon cinnamon
            ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and ground cloves and beat until mixed and smooth.
            2 eggs
            1 ½ teaspoons of vanilla
Now, mix in the eggs and vanilla until well mixed and smooth.
Next, if you have a good mixer, use it.  Otherwise mix by hand.
            1 ¾ cups of all purpose flour
            2 cups of rolled oats
After all of the above is well mixed in, then add and mix only enough to distribute the nuts and cranberries.
            1 cup pecans or walnuts
            1 cup of dried cranberries or Craisins
Use a teaspoon to put small mounds of dough on a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Some like the cookies softer and some like them crisper.  You decide, or make a pan of each.


This will make about 5 dozen cookies, depending on the size of the cookie you bake.  If you have a  large enough mixer, you can double this recipe, cook half of it and put the remaining batter in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.  Then, you can bake the rest tomorrow, yielding hot, fresh cookies on both days, with only one mixing.  Happy eating.

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

Crystal's grandmother stood under a maple tree.  Eula Moore was staring at the small storage shed about twenty feet behind her house.  She aimed a double-barreled shotgun at the door of the building.  "Don't make no sudden moves.  I got a nervous trigger finger.  I might just blow your head off."  Nothing moved.  "Now, very slowly, come on out in the open, and keep them hands over your head where I can see 'em."  Crystal crept up beside her grandmother, "What's in there, Nana?" she whispered.  A few moments passed.  Then a single finger came into view. Gradually, it turned into a whole hand, waving in a small arc.  "Por favor, no dispare."  The tiny brown hand fluttered again.  The voice quavered slightly, "Please.  No shoot.  No shoot."

Crystal Moore was paying her grandmother Eula a visit at her home "The Park."  Finding her Nana standing in a defensive stance with a shotgun pointed at one of the buildings wasn't what she had expected to walk into.  She also wasn't expecting the troubles that followed the discovery of a young Mexican woman hiding inside that building.

Rosa was her name.  She had been smuggled across the border to serve as what Crystal called a 'slave' to one of Dallas' most prominent men.  And to keep her under his control she is told that her husband will be killed if she talks to anyone or tries to run.

In Crystal's attempt to help Rosa as well as others in this same situation, she finds herself in the heart of Mexico where family members of those enslaved are being held.  This task is one that could cost her her own life as well as the lives of those close to her.

If you want a twisting road ride, you'll find it in A Silver Medallion.  I thought the first book in this series 'A Ton of Gold' was good.  This second book in the Crystal Moore Suspense Series has taken it a step further.  My word to Author James R. Callan is "hurry up and give me book 3!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Southern Spirits (The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries Book 1) - Angie Fox, Author



Coca Cola Cake
(It’s a staple in the South—and in Sugarland, Tennessee. This Coke cake recipe was contributed by Lee Avery Catts to "Atlanta Cooknotes" and was published by The Junior League of Atlanta.)

2 Cups sugar
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Cup Coca-Cola
1 ½ Cup small marshmallows
½ Cup butter or margarine
½ Cup vegetable oil
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 Teaspoon baking soda
½ Cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
½ Cup butter
3 Tablespoons cocoa
6 Tablespoons Coca-Cola
1 box (16-ounces) confectioners' sugar
1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup chopped pecans

Preparation
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 15 min
Prep Time: 30 min
Cook Time: 45 min
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, sift the sugar and flour. Add marshmallows. In a saucepan, mix the butter, oil, cocoa and Coca-Cola. Bring to a boil and pour over dry ingredients; blend well. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk just before adding to batter along with eggs and vanilla extract, mixing well. Pour into a well-greased 9- by-13-inch pan and bake 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and frost immediately.

Coca-Cola Cake Frosting
To make frosting, combine the 1/2 cup butter, 3 tablespoons cocoa and 6 tablespoons of Coca-Cola in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and pour over confectioners' sugar, blending well. Add vanilla extract and pecans. Spread over hot cake. When cool, cut into squares and serve.


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


"You want to help?" I asked, making sure I reached clear of Lucy as I dumped the contents of the vase over Grandma's rosebushes.  She gave the little pile a sniff and sneezed.  "You said it."  The dirt was loose and dry, which I was glad to see. I'd heard that sort of things was good for the roots.  It certainly couldn't hurt.  When the last of the fine dust had settled out of the air, I hosed out the vase and poured the water on the roses.  

After clipping a rose from the bush, putting it in the vase and adding water, Verity returned to the home she had inherited from her grandmother.  What happened next takes her on a journey that could only traveled by a strong minded southern girl, which she was.

Verity had been engaged to one of the most eligible, prominent members of her hometown Sugarland, Tennessee.  The wedding was planned and she was ready to go through it living happily ever after.  What she learned the day before the actual wedding put a stop on the event and ended up costing her everything she owned.  She had already sold off everything within her grandmother's house, except the dented vase that no one seemed to want.  Unless she found a way to come up with another $20,000 she would also be selling the house which was breaking her heart.

This book is so full of humor!  I'll give you just one hint of what you're in store for when reading Southern Spirits - Lucy is a skunk!  She's had her glands removed so she's safe but so cute you would think her to be a dog or cat.  The problems and events that take place after Verity poured the dirt on the roses leads to even more humor.  Yes, there are ghosts, murder and attempted murder, bringing it all together to make this one of my favorite books.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Snow Falls - Bobby Nash, Author



Snow Ice Cream
(This is a simple recipe if you live in an area where it snows).

Snow
Sugar
Vanilla extract
Milk

When the snow starts to fall, place a large, clean bowl outside to collect the snowflakes. When full, all you have to do is stir in the sugar and vanilla to taste then stir in just enough milk for the desired consistency. It will begin to melt quickly so once you make it, serve it and enjoy. Perhaps you can even enjoy it while reading a Snowy adventure.

(I remember eating this when I was a kid. Martha)


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

Abraham Snow wasn't the superstitious type.  That said, but spending so much time undercover, always under the threat of being found out, had made him sensitive to his surroundings  It was little more than intuition, a hunch that started as a tickle at the base of his brain.  He had learned to listen to those hunches.  More than once they had saved his life.  Standing in the middle of the lobby of that beautiful five-star hotel, surrounded by enough security to protect a small nation, that familiar warning make itself heard.  Whatever it was that set him on edge wasn't readily apparent.  Maybe his subconscious had picked up on something that his conscious mind hadn't yet detected.  He couldn't explain it, but there was danger lurking nearby.

Like his grandfather Archer Snow, Abraham Snow was one for excitement that took him deep undercover for any job he undertook.  But all things must come to an end so when someone sells him out to the target he was trying to get close to, his life almost came to an end, leaving him no choice but to head to his grandfathers' home for a little R&R.

What Snow didn't expect was the hotel his grandfather's family business was protecting to be hit by a sniper.  Their target being no one other than Owen Salizar, owner of Salizar Biotechnix.  A man the U.S. had been after for some time for laundering cash and supporting multiple terrorist groups and militant governments in exchange for business favors.  So far they haven't had enough proof to shut him down.

This book took me one night to read.  It is a short book but it's also one that was packed with action and I had a bit of trouble putting it down until finished.  It is book one in a series and left me wanting to know more about the man that almost killed Snow, as well as the sniper who went after Salizar.  You can bet I'll dig into book two in the near future.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Union of Friends - Glenn Sartori, Author



Jiffy Bar-BQ
(Glenn's Mom's Recipe)

My mom’s Jiffy Bar-BQ (Sloppy Joe) was a staple at family get-togethers.  All my aunts made it, but I think Mom’s was the best.  The addition of chili powder was the special ingredient.

Ingredients
1 ½ - 2 lbs. ground beef
1 medium onion
2 stalks of celery
1 green pepper
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of chili powder
1 small can of tomato paste
3 cans of water


Brown the meat in a heavy skillet. Drain. Finely chop the ingredients and add to the meat:  Add a small can of tomato paste with about 3 cans of water.  Cook until onion and celery are soft or until desired thickness.

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

"Union was murdered two years ago."

He felt a contraction in his heart and a cold tingling in his face, and couldn't utter a word.  Two years Travis thought.  He lost the power of sight for an instant, but he conquered his emotion by a strong effort of willpower, almost a transport of rage.  Why had she waited two years before telling him?  He felt numb, lost, and as if he had just awakened from a coma and was being downloaded with events he missed.  The words two years rolled through his mind - Union has been dead for two years.  He heard her say something about coffee, and he followed her into the house, his mind returning to reality.

Union Miller and Travis Gibbs had grown up together.   They were best friends.  Yet, he had been dead for two years and Travis never knew until he received a letter from Union's mother stating 'My Union was murdered.  Please come.  He didn't do it.'  So he went to Riverfield to find out who killed Union and why.

According to the police Union killed Patti and Patti's husband killed Union.  But why?  This simply wasn't the Union Travis had known the better part of his life.  And because of this, he was determined to find out what really happened.  With the help of an old schoolmate Travis started his investigation through which the name Global Friends kept popping up.  Could there be a connection?  Could Union have found information regarding this company that needed to remain hidden?

Union of Friends is one book that kept me in the dark until the end.  I never knew where it would lead me next nor which character could really be trusted.  Author Glenn Sartori let nothing slip which kept me turning pages as I tried to decide how everyone connected.  I'm now looking forward to the next book in this series.

 
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