Monday, May 27, 2013

A TIP OF THE STETSON TO "JOHNSON & LONGMIRE"--author Craig Johnson's contemporary western crime series "Walt Longmire Mysteries" features a smart, savvy, old-fashioned lawman. The best-selling books are the basis for the smash hit A&E TV series "LONGMIRE"!


 
The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire, #1)
 
 
 
Introducing Wyoming’s Sheriff Walt Longmire in this riveting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Hell Is Empty and As the Crow Flies, the first in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series
 
Fans of Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr and Robert B. Parker will love this outstanding first novel, in which New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson introduces Sheriff Walt Longmire of Wyoming’s Absaroka County. Johnson draws on his deep attachment to the American West to produce a literary mystery of stunning authenticity, and full of memorable characters. After twenty-five years as sheriff of Absaroka County, Walt Longmire’s hopes of finishing out his tenure in peace are dashed when Cody Pritchard is found dead near the Northern Cheyenne Reservation. Two years earlier, Cody had been one of four high school boys given suspended sentences for raping a local Cheyenne girl. Somebody, it would seem, is seeking vengeance, and Longmire might be the only thing standing between the three remaining boys and a Sharps .45-70 rifle.
 
With lifelong friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and a cast of characters both tragic and humorous enough to fill in the vast emptiness of the high plains, Walt Longmire attempts to see that revenge, a dish best served cold, is never served at all.
 
 
MY REVIEW:
 
"The Cold Dish" of revenge is well-served in the first book of author Craig Johnson's "Walt Longmire Mystery" series. As the sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, Walt Longmire has learned to keep his friends close, his enemies closer, and to keep a close eye on potentially unfriendly situations. A longtime lawman, Walt's law enforcement career actually began with his tour of duty in Vietnam. Also serving in Vietnam was Walt's lifelong friend, Henry Standing Bear, who now runs the local watering hole, The Red Pony. Walt and Henry go together like salt & pepper in a perfectly-seasoned recipe. Two strong individual characters, quite interesting on their own, but even better as a duo. The depth of their friendship is unspoken, but none-the-less keenly felt. That doesn't mean that they can't insult each other to infinity and beyond, which provides much of the laugh-out-loud humor in the book. Along with Walt and Henry, we meet a unique group of supporting characters like Victoria "Vic" Moretti, Walt's fast & foul-mouthed deputy. A former Philadelphia patrol cop from a long line of police officers, Vic moved to Wyoming along with her husband when he was transferred through his work as an engineer with a mining company. Vic, as loyal as she is loud in expressing her opinions, is also extremely competent, and in her own way, very caring. Rounding out the roster in the sheriff's office are Ruby, the capable and observant secretary/dispatcher; Ferg, the dutiful deputy; and Turk, more punk than policeman, and more attitude than ability. The setting itself, the stark, majestic beauty of the land, and the history of relationships between the settlers of the past and their modern-day descendants and the native Cheyenne is also an entity with a strong presence. Walt is the kind of detective whom I find most intriguing, flawed and fascinating, his keen intelligence expressed in his deductive reasoning skills and his wry humor. His interactions with the residents of the community, his love for his daughter, and his reflective grief over his wife's death are all important components of Walt Longmire. When a crime case from the past once again rears its ugly head, this time with murder as the result, prejudices and passions are combined in an explosive mix, one with devastating consequences. Author Craig Johnson writes with a sure sense of his people and their place, their ambitions and weaknesses, and the story line is consistently compelling. The conclusion is shattering--a stunning blow to the senses--yet we are ultimately left with the rekindling of the desire for life to continue and for laughter to reclaim its rightful rank. I was captivated by "The Cold Dish" from the very beginning, and it just got better as the story progressed. However, there was a turning point in the story line for me where Walt has to question a crime witness, a strange, alcohol-fueled, mule-riding man living in a decrepit cabin. The vivid word imagery of the scene and the interplay of dialogue between Walt and the surprisingly informative witness are simply superb, and a very good book then became a keeper. When you read "The Cold Dish", with my highest recommendation, you will discover exactly what I am talking about, and then, just like me, you will look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.
 
 
 
 
Death Without Company (Walt Longmire, #2)
 
 
 
Walt investigates a death by poison in this gripping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Cold Dish and As the Crow Flies, the second in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series
 
Now Johnson takes us back to the rugged landscape of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for Death Without Company. When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them.
 
 
 
 
Kindness Goes Unpunished (Walt Longmire, #3)
 
 
 
Walt Longmire returns for his third adventure but this time he is in the City of Brotherly Love, where no act of kindness goes unpunished. Walt has been the sheriff in Wyoming's Absaroka County for twenty-four years, where his wit and charm have helped him solve many crimes. But that can't prepare him for the savage attack on his daughter, Cady, a Philadelphia lawyer who has unwittingly become embroiled in a political cover-up. As Walt and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear, scour the city for clues, he gets help from his deputy Victoria Moretti and her family of Philly police. But Longmire wasn’t born yesterday. He's willing to pull out all the stops to find Cady's attacker and show the big city that this old-timer has a few moves left in his saddlebag of tricks. Those who enjoy Tony Hillerman and James Lee Burke will delight in Johnson's third Sheriff Longmire adventure.
 
 
 
 
Another Man's Moccasins (Walt Longmire, #4)
 
 
 
Walt Longmire unravels a mystery that connects two murders across forty years

When the body of a young Vietnamese woman is found alongside the interstate in Absaroka County, Wyoming, Sheriff Walt Longmire is determined to discover the identity of the victim and is forced to confront the horrible similarities of this murder to that of his first homicide investigation as a marine in Vietnam.

To complicate matters, Virgil White Buffalo, a homeless Crow Indian, is found living in a nearby culvert and in possession of the young woman's purse. There are only two problems with what appears to be an open-and-shut case. One, the sheriff doesn't think Virgil White Buffalo, a Vietnam vet with a troubling past, is a murderer. And two, the photo that is found in the woman's purse looks hauntingly familiar to Walt.

In the fourth book in Craig Johnson's award-winning Walt Longmire series, the tough yet tender sheriff solves two murders tied in blood but separated by nearly forty years.




The Dark Horse (Walt Longmire, #5)
 
 
 
Walt Longmire goes undercover to save a woman in an unfriendly place
Interweaving classic noir sensibilities and humor with contemporary themes of social justice, Craig Johnson's popular Walt Longmire mysteries transport readers to the sparse and rugged landscape of Wyoming. In The Dark Horse, the sheriff investigates when his instincts tell him something isn't right about a prisoner accused of killing her husband.

Wade Barsad, a man with a dubious past, locked his wife's horses in their barn and burned the animals alive. In return, Mary shot Wade in the head six times-or so the story goes. Walt doesn't believe Mary's confession, and he's determined to dig deeper. Posing as an insurance claims investigator, Walt soon discovers other people who might have wanted Wade dead, including a beautiful Guatemalan bartender and a rancher with a taste for liquor, but not for honesty.

The Dark Horse is sure to build on the success of Another Man's Moccasins as Sheriff Longmire unpins his star and ventures into a town without pity to save a woman without hope.
 
 
 
 
Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire, #6)
 
 
A missing thumb and dead developers are only the beginning for Sheriff Walt Longmire
It's a volatile new economy in Durant, Wyoming, where the owners of a multi-million dollar development of ranchettes want to get rid of the adjacent junk-yard. When a severed thumb is discovered in the yard, conflicts erupt, and Walt Longmire, his trusty companion Dog, life-long friend Henry Standing Bear, and deputies Santiago Saizarbitoria and Victoria Moretti find themselves in a small town that feels more and more like a high plains pressure cooker.

Craig Johnson's award-winning Walt Longmire mysteries continue to find new fans, and Junkyard Dogs is sure to create many more devotees. The sixth book in the series is filled with Johnson's signature blend of wisecracks, Western justice, and page-turning plot twists, as the beloved sheriff finds himself star-deep in the darker aspects of human nature, in a story of love, laughs, death, and derelict automobiles.
 
 
 
 
Hell Is Empty (Walt Longmire, #7)
 
 
 
Wyoming's favorite sheriff braves a frozen inferno as he races to capture an escaped murderer.

Well-read and world-weary, Sheriff Walt Longmire has been maintaining order in Wyoming's Absaroka County for more than thirty years, but in this riveting seventh outing, he is pushed to his limits. Raynaud Shade, an adopted Crow Indian, has just confessed to murdering a boy ten years ago and burying him deep within the Big Horn Mountains. After transporting Shade and a group of other convicted murderers through a snowstorm, Walt is informed by the FBI that the body is buried in his jurisdiction-and the victim's name is White Buffalo. Guided only by Indian mysticism and a battered paperback of Dante's Inferno, Walt pursues Shade and his fellow escapees into the icy hell of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, cheating death to ensure that justice-both civil and spiritual-is served.
 
 
 
 
Divorce Horse
 
 
 
Walt Longmire, the longtime sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, has little time to relax. Still recovering from his manhunt chasing down escaped convict and sociopath Reynaud Shade in the Bighorn Mountains, Walt just can’t find the opportunity to sit back and kick off his cowboy boots. His daughter, Cady, is getting married in a few months to the brother of his under-sheriff Victoria Moretti and is in town, helping her dad ‘recuperate’ and to talk about love, life, and weddings.

Meanwhile, the American Indian Days Parade and Pow Wow are attracting tourists and trouble. The pride and joy of Tommy Jefferson’s stables—and the catalyst for his marital troubles—the notorious divorce horse, has gone missing, and Jefferson, renowned Indian Relay Racer and one-time meth head, wants him back. With the help of his best friend Henry Standing Bear and his daughter, The Greatest Legal Mind Of Our Time, Walt sets off to the races.
 
 
 
 
 
As The Crow Flies (Walt Longmire, #8)
 


Walt gets shanghaied into a murder investigation on the Reservation in this New York Times bestseller from the author of The Cold Dish and Hell Is Empty, the eighth novel in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series, the basis for LONGMIRE, the hit A&E original drama series
Wyoming Sheriff Walt Longmire has a more important matter on his mind than cowboys and criminals. His daughter, Cady, is getting married to the brother of his under-sheriff, Victoria Moretti. Walt and old friend Henry Standing Bear are the de facto wedding planners and fear Cady’s wrath when the wedding locale arrangements go up in smoke two weeks before the big event.

The pair set out to find a new site for the nuptials on the Cheyenne Reservation, but their scouting expedition ends in horror as they witness a young Crow woman plummeting from Painted Warrior’s majestic cliffs. It’s not Walt’s turf, but the newly appointed tribal police chief and Iraqi war veteran, the beautiful Lolo Long, shanghais him into helping with the investigation. Walt is stretched thin as he mentors Lolo, attempts to catch the bad guys, and performs the role of father of the bride.
 
 
 
 
Christmas in Absaroka County (Walt Longmire)
 
 
 
It’s holiday season in Absaroka County and Sheriff Walt Longmire gets personal in this delightful collection of four short stories from New York Times–bestselling author Craig Johnson.
Readers glimpse a softer side of Sheriff Walt Longmire as he grapples with the death of his wife, Martha, and his sometimes turbulent but ever-loving relationship with his daughter, Cady. In these four stories—“Ministerial Aid", “Slick-Tongued Devil", “Toys for Tots", and “Unbalanced” (three of which have been sent to Johnson’s fans over the years in the author’s “Post-it” e-mails)—Walt is alternately at his best and his worst. He helps a somewhat delusional elderly victim of domestic abuse while sporting a bathrobe and a mean hangover on New Year’s Day. He’s sidelined by grief when his wife’s obituary reappears in the paper and there’s an unexpected knock on his door two days before Christmas. He strives to help even those who don’t want it when he picks up a young female hitchhiker, and he’s forced into some last-minute Christmas shopping by the Greatest Legal Mind of Our Time, during which he might just end up saving a young Navy chaplain’s Christmas.

Full of Longmire’s dry wit and good heart, Christmas in Absaroka County is a holiday must-have for every Longmire and Craig Johnson fan, and it also includes the first chapter of The Cold Dish, the first novel in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series. Full of Longmire’s dry wit and good heart, Christmas in Absaroka County is a holiday must-have for every Longmire and Craig Johnson fan, and it also includes the first chapter of The Cold Dish, the first novel in the Walt Longmire Mystery Series.
 
 
 
 
Messenger: A Walt Longmire Story
 
 
 
Sheriff Walt Longmire comes face to face with an other-worldy messenger in this hilarious short story from the New York Times bestselling author of As the Crow Flies and The Cold Dish

Sheriff Walt Longmire, his long-time friend Henry Standing Bear, and his under-sheriff Victoria Moretti are returning from a fishing trip in the Bighorn Mountains when Walt receives a distress call from Crazy Woman Canyon. Forest service ranger Chuck Coon is in trouble. Walt, the Bear, and Vic arrive to find Coon and a young woman up a tree, so to speak. The unlikely duo are fending off three very real bears from the top of a Porta Potty and tell a mystifying story of another dangerous creature inside the “convenience.” When Walt, Henry, and Vic face the creature what they find may be a Messenger from the Camp of the Dead, with a very personal tie to Walt himself.

A must-have for every Longmire and Craig Johnson fan, Messenger also includes a teaser chapter from Johnson's new novel, A Serpent's Tooth.
 
 
 
 
A Serpent's Tooth (Walt Longmire, #9)
 
 
 
The inspiration for A&E's Longmire finds himself in the crosshairs in the ninth book of the New York Times bestselling series

The success of Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series that began with The Cold Dish continues to grow after A&E’s hit show Longmire introduced new fans to the Wyoming sheriff. As the Crow Flies marked the series’ highest debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Now, in his ninth Western mystery, Longmire stares down his most dangerous foes yet.

It’s homecoming in Absaroka County, but the football and festivities are interrupted when a homeless boy wanders into  town. A Mormon “lost boy,” Cord Lynear is searching for his missing mother but clues are scarce. Longmire and his companions, feisty deputy Victoria Moretti and longtime friend Henry Standing Bear, embark on a high plains scavenger hunt in hopes of reuniting mother and son. The trail leads them to an interstate polygamy group that’s presiding over a stockpile of weapons and harboring a vicious vendetta.
 
 
Spirit of Steamboat: A Walt Longmire Story
 
 
 
A holiday tale from the New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire mystery series, the inspiration for A&E’s hit show Longmire

"It’s a question of what you have to do, what you have to live with if you don’t.”

Sheriff Walt Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office on December 24th when he’s interrupted by the ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a hairline scar across her forehead and more than a few questions about Walt’s predecessor, Lucian Connally. Walt doesn’t recognize the mystery woman, but she seems to know him and claims to have something she must return to Connally. With his daughter, Cady, and his under-sheriff Vic Moretti in Philadelphia for the holidays, Walt is at loose ends, and despite the woman’s reticence to reveal her identity, he agrees to help her.

At the Durant Home for Assisted Living Lucian Connally is several tumblers into his Pappy Van Winkle’s and swears he’s never clapped eyes on the woman before. Disappointed, she whispers "Steamboat” and begins a story that takes them all back to Christmas Eve 1988, when three people died in a terrible crash and a young girl had the slimmest chance of survival . . . back to a record-breaking blizzard, to Walt’s first year as sheriff, with a young daughter at home and a wife praying for his safety . . . back to a whiskey-soaked World War II vet ready to fly a decommissioned plane and risk it all to save a life.

Back to the Spirit of Steamboat.
 
 
 

 
 
Craig Johnson is the author of eight novels in the Walt Longmire mystery series, which has garnered popular and critical acclaim. The Cold Dish was a Dilys Award finalist and the French edition won Le Prix du Polar Nouvel Observateur/BibliObs. Death Without Company, the Wyoming State Historical Association’s Book of the Year, won France’s Le Prix 813. Another Man’s Moccasins was the Western Writers of America’s Spur Award winner and the Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Book of the Year, and The Dark Horse, the fifth in the series, was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. Junkyard Dogs won the Watson Award for a mystery novel with the best sidekick, and Hell Is Empty, selected by Library Journal as the Best Mystery of the Year, was a New York Times best seller, as was As the Crow Flies. The Walt Longmire series is the basis for the hit A&E drama, Longmire, starring Robert Taylor, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Katee Sackoff.

Johnson lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.



 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

ENJOY "THE THRILL OF THE GRILL"--recipes both savory & sweet--good food & good times!


























Sweet & Spicy Grilled Shrimp:

1 cup pineapple jelly or orange marmalade
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 limes, juice of
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 lbs shrimp, raw, large, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
grilling skewers

In a small saucepan combine jelly or marmalade, garlic, lime juice, Worcestershire, jalapeno and chilies. Cook over medium heat until jelly melts. Thread shrimp onto skewers, about 4 per skewer if using large shrimp. Brush both sides of shrimp with jelly mixture and place on a tray to marinate for 30 minutes. Preheat grill on high and sprinkle shrimp with salt on both sides. Grill shrimp for 3 minutes per side, brushing with marinade again before turning. Reduce time for smaller shrimp. Place remaining sauce in a serving dish for dipping. 



Grilled Peaches & Pound Cake:

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter, melted
4 peaches, halved and pitted
4 slices pound cake, sliced 3/4 inch thick
vanilla ice cream 

Set gas grill to medium or heat charcoal grill until coals are white. Combine sugar and nutmeg in a bowl. Brush the flat side of peach halves with melted butter. Place the peaches in the sugar mixture and allow to marinate for at least 5 minutes. Place peaches flat side down on grill. Cover and grill for 5 minutes. Flip peaches, cover and grill for 5 more minutes. Remove from grill, slice each peach half in quarters and cover to keep warm. Brush both sides of each pound cake slice with butter. Place on grill. Cover and grill 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Flip each slice and grill for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until slices are crisp and golden. Top each piece of cake with grilled peaches and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.   



Tender Grilled Corn-on-the-Cob with Garlic-Cheese Butter:

corn on the cob, husks and silk removed
1 stick (1/2 cup) real butter, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 tsp California-style garlic salt (with dried parsley)

HEAT grill to medium-high heat. RINSE corn under cold water; wrap individually in foil. GRILL 15 to 20 min. or until tender, turning occasionally. MIX remaining ingredients in a small bowl; spread liberally onto corn. STORE leftover garlic-cheese butter covered in refrigerator (it’s great on other vegetables and grilled bread).


Sweet & Spicy BBQ Sauce:

1 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
two 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1/4 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large sweet red onion, peeled and minced
2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a medium pan, start sauce by honey, molasses, tomato sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and peppers. In a skillet, sauté onion and garlic in oil until tender and translucent, then add to the sauce and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 7 minutes.



Savory Honey Grilled Salmon:

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets

Mix all ingredients, except salmon, in small bowl. Place salmon in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat well. Refrigerate 15 minutes or longer for extra flavor. Remove salmon from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Grill over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.



Raspberry Barbecue Sauce:

1 (10-ounce) jar seedless raspberry preserves
1/3 cup bottled barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons hot sauce

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and cook 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Stir in hot sauce. Makes 1 cup.   



Peanut Butter & Banana S'mores:

graham cracker squares; peanut butter (even better with honey peanut butter or chocolate peanut butter or hazelnut spread); sliced bananas; toasted marshmallows
Spread one graham cracker square with peanut butter and top with banana slices. Add a toasted marshmallow or two. Top with another graham cracker square. Squish! Enjoy : ) Repeat!



Berry Lemonade:

one gallon lemonade
3 cups frozen mixed berries
if desired, sugar or sweetener to taste
Place berries in a blender, and add enough lemonade to cover fruit. Puree until blended. Combine puree and remaining lemonade in a large serving pitcher. If desired, add sugar or sweetener to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir well before serving.  



White Wine Sangria:

1 Bottle of white wine (Riesling, Chablis, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc)
2/3 cup white sugar
1 cup orange juice
3 oranges (sliced)
1 lemon (sliced)
1 lime (sliced)
1/2 liter of ginger ale
if desired, add more fruit such as sliced strawberries, peaches, fresh blueberries, raspberries, kiwi
Pour wine in a large clear glass pitcher and stir in orange juice. Add fruit and sugar. Stir well. Chill overnight. Add ginger ale or club soda just before serving.



 
Hazelnut Fudge Parfaits:

In a tall parfait glass, place one scoop of your favorite ice cream. Crumble some cookies of your choice (good way to use broken pieces), and add enough cookie pieces to cover ice cream. Top with a little Hazelnut Fudge syrup (half chocolate hazelnut spread & half hot fudge sauce, mixed well). Repeat. Top off with whipped cream, nuts, sprinkles, candy, cookie pieces...whatever you like. Just be sure to put a cherry on top :  )


Blushing Peach Cobbler:

3 cups sliced fresh peaches
2 cups fresh raspberries or small strawberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
2 cups biscuit mix
1/2 cup milk
1/2 stick butter, melted
3 tbsp. brown sugar
Heat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2-quart casserole dish. Mix peaches, berries, granulated sugar, cornstarch and nutmeg in large bowl. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Spoon into pie plate. Stir together remaining ingredients in same bowl until dough forms. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto fruit mixture. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until fruit is bubbly and topping is deep golden brown and thoroughly baked. Serve topped with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.



Grilled Salmon with Fresh Mango Salsa:


4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
small amount light cooking oil
salt & pepper

Brush salmon fillets lightly with oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Prepare grill or broiler. Place salmon on grill rack or broiler pan coated with nonstick cooking spray; cook 5 minutes on each side or until salmon is done. Serve with Mango Salsa, hot fluffy rice, grilled garlic toast, and a basic green salad.

Mango Salsa:

1 mango, peeled and finely diced
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro or mint
Zest of 1 lime
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste
Combine all salsa ingredients in a small bowl, season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce, and mix well.



Overnight Layered Salad:

"It's a beauty--serve it in a clear glass bowl for best effect!"
1 pkg (16oz) prewashed mixed salad greens
1 large tomato, medium diced
1 large red onion, rough chopped
1 pkg (3 oz) precooked real bacon pieces
1 pkg (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed in a colander, do not rinse
1/2 small jar (or more as needed) extra-thick creamy (Ranch, Thousand Island, Blue Cheese, etc) refrigerated salad dressing (found in produce section)
1 (8 oz) pkg shredded Cheddar cheese
In order given, layer ingredients in a large, deep, clear glass serving container. Cover top of container with plastic wrap, sealing well. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop.



Make-Ahead Super Sub Sandwich:

1 long loaf crusty Italian bread (1 lb. or more)
2/3 cup olive oil mayonnaise
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 pound fully cooked ham, thinly sliced
1/2 pound thinly sliced cooked turkey
1/4 pound thinly sliced hard salami
1/4 pound sliced provolone cheese
1/4 pound sliced mozzarella cheese
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 large firm tomato, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced into rings

Cut bread in half lengthwise; slightly hollow out top and bottom. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic, Italian seasoning and pepper; brush on cut sides of bread top and bottom. On the bottom half, layer half of the meats, cheeses, onion, tomato, and green pepper. Repeat layers. Replace bread top. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap; refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Slice into wedges to serve.



Lemon Blueberry Muffins:

1 two-layer size lemon cake mix
2 tbsp. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2/3 c. milk
3 large eggs
3 c. light vegetable oil
1 cup rinsed and drained blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Combine dry cake mix, flour and baking powder in large bowl. Beat milk, eggs and oil together with fork in a separate bowl. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients in bowl and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in blueberries. Do not over-mix. Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling 1/3 full. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.
 


Fiesta Shrimp:

2 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
6 cups water
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Avocado slices, lime wedges, saltines (optional)

Peel shrimp, and devein, if desired. Bring 6 cups water and next 4 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan; add shrimp. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Drain shrimp, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Stir together reserved liquid, ketchup, and next 3 ingredients. Stir in shrimp, tomato, and cilantro. Chill. Serve with avocado slices, lime wedges, and saltines, if desired. Makes 6 servings.  



Pineapple Coconut Cake:

1 butter recipe yellow cake mix (2 layer size)
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 small can coconut milk
1 small can crushed pineapple  1 (8 oz) container nondairy whipped topping  sweetened shredded coconut for topping cake

Prepare cake mix as directed on package, adding in 1 cup coconut. Bake in a 13x9 inch pan per package directions. Allow cake to cool in pan until still warm. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, poke holes evenly in cake. Pour coconut milk evenly over cake and in holes. Spread crushed pineapple over top of cake. When cool, spread whipped topping evenly over cake and sprinkle with additional cake. Store in refrigerator. Allow cake to chill well for best flavor.   



Mom's Cole Slaw;

Dressing:
1 c. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seeds
Stir together all ingredients. Cover; chill. Makes 1 1/4 cups.
To make slaw: Shred one small head fresh green cabbage and place in a medium glass bowl. Finely shred several carrots and add to cabbage. Stir to combine. Add one small green pepper and one small onion, both finely chopped. Stir to combine. Add dressing to slaw mixture and stir to mix well. Cover tightly and chill overnight. Stir well before serving.


 
Caesar Chicken Pasta Salad:

1 (16 oz) pkg tri-color rotini pasta, cooked al dente, drained & cooled
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, cut in bite-sized pieces*
*(recommended method: spray a non-stick skillet lightly with cooking spray & saute chicken until done)
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp coarsely grated black pepper
1 (16 oz) bottle creamy Caesar Salad Dressing
romaine lettuce leaves
cooked crumbled bacon
additional grated Parmesan cheese
croutons

In a large bowl, combine pasta and chicken. Stir to mix. Add in tomatoes, minced garlic, green onions, 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, and black pepper. Stir until combined. Add dressing, and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop. To serve: arrange lettuce leaves on plate, add a scoop of salad, and top with bacon, Parmesan cheese, and croutons.

READ TO REMEMBER--We must never forget the sacrifices made to preserve our free way of life!

I have tremendous empathy for all of our armed services members and their families. I greatly appreciate the sacrifices made so that I may enjoy a free way of life here in the United States. Seeing our service members standing so proud in their uniforms makes me want to stand up taller and straighter, shoulders back! The greatest way to honor all of those who served and sacrificed is to hold your loved ones close to your heart, and live your life in celebration of precious freedom. Make a new memory each day. Whether you gather together with others to observe ceremonial traditions, or you take a moment for quiet reflection, live each day to the fullest and savor the flavors of life. Read to remember.  



From Ashes to HonorHonor RedeemedMan of Honor

FROM ASHES TO HONOR
HONOR REDEEMED

MAN OF HONOR


The First Responders Series   by Loree Lough is a look into the lives of first responders — EMTs, Search and Rescue (SAR) professionals and firefighters — what motivates them and how their job choices affect their lives and relationships. At last count, this popular Inspirational author had 82 award-winning books (more than 3,000,000 copies in circulation), 67 short stories, and 2,500+ articles in print. The oft-invited guest of writers' organizations, colleges and universities, corporate and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, Loree Lough loves sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry. Loree has traveled coast to coast and border to border, appearing on national, regional, and local TV and radio shows. Although this once-upon-a-time traveling troubadour refuses to say when, exactly, she traded her Yamaha for a wedding ring, she IS willing to admit that, every now and then, she blows the dust off her six-string to croon a tune or two. But mostly, she just writes (and writes). Loree and her husband split their time between a home in the Baltimore suburbs and a cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where she continues to perfect her talent for identifying critter tracks. Her favorite pass time? Spending long, leisurely hours with her grandchildren... all seven of them! She loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter, personally. Visit her website, http://www.loreelough.com.



Sarah Sundin is the author of the “Wings of Glory” series–”A Distant Melody”, “A Memory Between Us”, and “Blue Skies Tomorrow”–which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Sarah Sundin followed an unusual career path for a novelist, receiving a bachelor’s in chemistry from UCLA and a doctorate in pharmacy from UC San Francisco. She now lives in northern California with her husband, three children, an antisocial cat, and a yellow lab determined to eat her manuscripts. When not driving kids to soccer and tennis, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches women’s Bible studies and fourth- and fifth-grade Sunday school. She has been writing since 2000 and belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers and Christian Authors Network. She is the author of the Wings of Glory series – A Distant Melody (Revell 2010), A Memory Between Us (2010), and Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011). In 2011 she received the Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. A Memory Between Us was featured on Booklist’s Top Ten Inspirational Fiction List for 2010.



   Tricia Goyer’s “The Liberator Series”, includes “From Dust and Ashes”, “Night Song”, “Dawn of a Thousand Nights”, and “Arms of Deliverance”. Four different tales, rich in authentic historical detail, connected by the WWII setting. Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-six books including Beside Still Waters, The Swiss Courier, and the mommy memoir, Blue Like Play Dough. She won Historical Novel of the Year in 2005 and 2006 from ACFW, and was honored with the Writer of the Year award from Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference in 2003. Tricia’s book Life Interrupted was a finalist for the Gold Medallion in 2005. In addition to her novels, Tricia writes non-fiction books and magazine articles for publications like MomSense and Thriving Family. Tricia is a regular speaker at conventions and conferences, and has been a workshop presenter at the MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International Conventions. She and her family make their home in Little Rock, Arkansas where they are part of the ministry of FamilyLife. Visit www.triciagoyer.com for more about Tricia and her books.



  It has been a while since I have read a book where the overall story was the star, and the characters were necessary components to reach the final page. I enjoyed “Restoration”, by Olaf Olafsson, very much. The human failings and strengths of each character add shaded complexities to the horrific World War II story line. The contrast of the settings of glorious Tuscany and the destruction from bombing, killing and marauding invaders is piercing. There is no hero or heroine in this story, but a collection of people and lives that you hope will somehow be set to rights. There are secrets, betrayals, devastating loss, and mysteries which propel the characters toward resolutions and new beginnings. Alice is the wealthy daughter of a class-conscious British family. She shocks everyone by marrying Claudio, an entitled minor-landowner, and moving with him to Tuscany. They begin their life together in a once-beautiful villa in need of much repair. As they work side by side to build a dream life, they try to ignore their underlying differences. A much-loved son, Giovanni, is born, and they find a measure of contentment. However, as the villa and its lands begin to flourish, more and more demands are made upon both Claudio and Alice. He is very much a man of the land and his dependents, and she begins to long for tastes of the life she left behind. She recklessly reaches out for greater fulfillment, and yet she is not without guilt and self-recrimination. The illness and eventual death of young Giovanni pushes Claudio and Alice further apart. Her intended reparation to their marriage is halted by Claudio’s strange disappearance. Alice is left to manage the villa and its lands with the help of a devoted family friend, Pritchett. As the war progresses, more and more seekers of sanctuary descend upon Alice and her home. One of them, a young woman named Kristin, comes bearing a serious wound and deep secrets which could gravely affect many in their wake. The effects of our actions and missteps are very much evident here, and those with survivor guilt must find a way to move forward. Chose to live, and live the life you are given. This is a book which will make you want to read it all in one setting. You will want to know how the final pieces of the puzzle fall into place. A very good read.



  Just as the garden of “Winter Bloom” is lovingly and skillfully brought back to life, so are the lives of the characters revived and renewed. Tara Heavey tells the story of five people who work together toward a common goal and discover much about themselves and each other along the way. When young widowed mother Eva Madigan spies the sadly neglected walled garden of the elderly Mrs. Prendergast, she is struck by the desire to restore the wasted space to its former glory. It takes some convincing, and Mrs. Prendergast warns her that the garden is meant to be sold, but Eva is given permission for her project. She places an ad at the grocer for help with a community garden, and only two people respond to the ad: Uri, a distinguished older gentleman, and Emily, the clerk from the grocer. Soon they are joined by Uri’s son Seth, and after a time, even Mrs. Prendergast begins to help with the work. Each of the gardeners has been touched by tragedy, and their individual stories are woven throughout the telling of the restoration. Uri, a tailor by trade, was taught much by his own father, who was a master gardener. Seth, who inherited his love of cultivating the soil from his father and grandfather, has his own landscaping business. Emily, stuck in her clerk’s job, longs to further her education and move on with her life. Mrs. Prendergast, a lady of impeccable social grace, is nonetheless rumored to have killed her husband and buried him somewhere in the garden. It is her greedy, needy son, Lance, who is pressuring her to sell the land. Eva’s husband took their baby daughter for a drive to settle her crying, and they were both killed in a terrible accident. Eva was left to care for their young son, Liam, and to manage her survivor guilt. These are remarkable people, trying their best to live “ordinary” lives. I was touched by their heartaches, and I celebrated with them their joys. Their shared experience was an affirmation of life, not only for the characters, but also for the reader. I will definitely read more work by the wonderful storyteller, Tara Heavey!



  Prepare to have your eyes opened, your heart broken, and your view of the amazing endurance of the human spirit revised and revived. You will experience all of these things when you read Rosie Alison’s “The Very Thought of You”. A shattering, yet spirit-sustaining, glimpse into loss and survivorship, this is a story which will resonate with many. Few will be unaffected. In the summer of 1939, with the impending threats of WWII devastation looming large, thousands of children were evacuated from London, sent to safer locations in the surrounding countryside. These children were torn from their homes and separated from their parents, and no one could be certain what the future would hold. “The Very Thought of You” focuses on one such child, Anna Sands, relocated to the wealthy manor home of Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton. Childless themselves, the Ashtons welcome the children and provide them with care and an education. It is the gallant and gentle Thomas who becomes a touchstone in Anna’s life. He is a man who suffers great loss and unspeakable tragedy, yet he lives his life with appreciation for the beauty he sees among the devastation. True love comes to Thomas in midlife, but it is not a love with whom he will be allowed to share life on earth. However, even death cannot dim the luminescence of this love. Your heart will ache for Thomas, but his soul remains undaunted through it all. As with many who have experienced the shock of wartime desolation, Anna searches throughout her life for real peace of mind. As a married adult, with children of her own, Anna finds some measure of comfort in reconnecting with Thomas. They form a somewhat tentative, but still caring relationship, keeping touch in letters and Christmas cards. Ultimately, Anna’s search for fulfillment will come full circle and bring her once again to Ashton Manor. As the song says: “The very thought of you, and I forget to do those little ordinary things that everyone ought to do….”. This story and these characters are neither little nor ordinary. They will stay in the reader’s consciousness for a very long time.



  “The Soldier’s Wife” by Margaret Leroy is a thoughtful, well-told tale based on the true German occupation of the small Channel Island of Guernsey during World War II. After I read the novel, I researched the facts of the occupation, and the real story is just as compelling as the fictional account. Reading them both enhances the collective story content. Vivienne de la Mare is the wife of an English soldier, and she and her two daughters live with her mother-in-law at the family home in Guernsey. Vivienne’s husband was absent from her life long before he went off to war. His affair with an actress alienated him from Vivienne’s heart. Left to care for her mother-in-law, who is rapidly succumbing to dementia, Vivienne makes life as pleasant as possible for her two young daughters. When the German occupation arrives in an intense and violent manner, many rapid changes occur in the life of the islanders. German soldiers take over the empty house next to Vivienne’s, and she becomes involved with one the officers. Theirs is a poignant, passionate, and ultimately improbable affair. During the time of the occupation, Vivienne is faced with many difficult decisions, some of which may have dangerous consequences for those she loves. “The Soldier’s Wife” is written in a beautifully descriptive style, and it offers glimpses into both sides of the horror of the Second World War. The shades of survivorship are well represented. My mother and grandparents often talked about food shortages and rationing during the Great Depression and also later during World War II. My grandparents were very resourceful, skilled in gardening and preserving food, and they were practical in making the most of what was available. As a matter of survival, the characters in “The Soldier’s Wife” had to learn to do the same thing. Used to the bountiful produce from the land and the sea, and the superior dairy products from the famous Guernsey cows, the islanders suddenly were faced with scrambling to find substitutions for everyday foods. They learned to use vegetables in many different ways including making flour from dried ground beans and coffee from roasted and ground parsnips. I am not sure that I would be that resourceful, but we never know what we are capable of until we are faced with great challenges. One of my favorite scenes in “The Soldier’s Wife” involves the rapture of Vivienne’s struggling family’s enjoyment of an unexpected gift of overripe peaches. The fruit was sweet and succulent, and it seemed like a taste of Heaven. The juice from the peaches ran freely down their chins as they gratefully devoured their fruity treasure.


More reading recommendations:

“The Bungalow” by Sarah Jio (author of “The Violets of March”):
“A sweeping World War II saga of thwarted love, murder, and a long-lost painting. In the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancĂ©, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war. A timeless story of enduring passion, The Bungalow chronicles Anne’s determination to discover the truth about the twin losses-of life, and of love-that have haunted her for seventy years.” http://www.amazon.com/Bungalow-Novel-Sarah-Jio/dp/0452297672/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327369042&sr=1-1
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“The House at Tyneford” by Natasha Solomons:
It’s the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford’s young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford-and Elise-forever.
http://www.amazon.com/House-at-Tyneford-Novel/dp/0452297648/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327369297&sr=1-1
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“The Lost Wife” by Alyson Richman:
A rapturous new novel of first love in a time of war-from the celebrated author of The Last Van Gogh. In pre-war Prague, the dreams of two young lovers are shattered when they are separated by the Nazi invasion. Then, decades later, thousands of miles away in New York, there’s an inescapable glance of recognition between two strangers. Providence is giving Lenka and Josef one more chance. From the glamorous ease of life in Prague before the Occupation, to the horrors of Nazi Europe, The Lost Wife explores the power of first love, the resilience of the human spirit- and the strength of memory.
http://www.amazon.com/Lost-Wife-Alyson-Richman/dp/042524413X/ref=pd_sim_b_4
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“Letters From Home” by Kristina McMorris:
Liz Stephen’s life changes when she meets infantryman Morgan McClain at a Chicago USO club. Liz has long expected to marry her childhood friend, Dalton, yet her instant attraction to Morgan is mutual. But when she misinterprets Morgan’s chivalrous rescue of her friend Betty, she flees without explanation. When Betty begins corresponding with Morgan, she asks for Liz’s help. Soon, Morgan and Liz, under Betty’s alias, are exchanging soul-baring letters. Betty, serving in the Woman’s Army Corps, finds unexpected romance of her own, as does Liz’s engaged best friend Julia. But as the war ends, each woman faces the repercussions of her choices. Inspired by the true story of her grandparents’ epistolary courtship during World War II, Kristina McMorris captures the heartache and sacrifice of love and war in a story that is timeless, tender, and unforgettably moving.
http://www.amazon.com/Letters-Home-Kristina-McMorris/dp/0758246846/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327370823&sr=1-1

Friday, May 24, 2013

Author Kate Walker--intense romance reads which hold you enthralled from first page to last!


Kate Walker  Kate Walker has been writing romance for over 25 years, and her contemporary love stories are classic tales of passion, filled with emotional twists and turns. Her characters allow us to live out our dreams through her words, and her story lines always offer something unexpected and intriguing. If you love intense romance reads which hold you enthralled from first page to last, then you will love the work of this amazing author. Kate's book list is quite extensive, and I have read and enjoyed many of her terrific titles through the years. For more information about Kate and her books, visit her website Here are several of my recent reviews for Kate Walker's wonderfully-written love stories:   



A Throne for the Taking


"A Throne for the Taking" is a royal treat for readers, served up with sizzling style by author Kate Walker. A story line full of passion, poignancy, and intrigue is given life by two compelling characters, both driven by their own sense of duty. Honoria Escalona, Grand Duchess of Mecjorica, daughter of the High Chancellor, now at risk of losing everything she has ever known due to the misdeeds of her father. Forced to contact the one man she thought never to see again, Alexei Sarova, Honoria must somehow put aside her trepidation and convince Alexei to return to the land of his birth. The son of a royal father and a commoner mother, Alexei has every right to deny her request. At a young age, Alexei learned just how cruel court manipulations can be when his parents' marriage was declared invalid, making him illegitimate and ineligible to inherit the throne. He and his mother settled in England, and while Alexei became a successful international entrepreneur, he remained haunted by the injustice his family had suffered. Ten years have passed since Ria and Alexei have spoken, and now she has suddenly appeared, bearing proof of the legitimacy of Alexei's heritage. Friends in their youth, their relationship was strained by scandal. Now, Ria desperately needs his help, not just to restore order to the kingdom, but to save her from an unbearable arranged marriage. Stunned to find Ria at his business headquarters in England, Alexei has no intention of granting her wish. However, the more she pleads with him, the more he realizes that he has a longing to return home, a longing that has much to do with his intense attraction to the beautifully grown-up Ria. He will agree to her proposition, with one contingency--she will become his royal bride--for as long as he wants and needs her by his side. He respects her intelligence and regal persona, and he desires her beauty and vulnerability. When the time comes, will he be able to let her go? Ria can't help falling for the handsome, commanding Alexei, who underneath his imposing exterior, still has a tender heart. Can she trust him? Once you start reading "A Throne for the Taking", you will be caught in the spell of the drama and romance of author Kate Walker's storytelling.

Review Copy Gratis Author




The Return of the Stranger

THE RETURN OF THE STRANGER  by Kate Walker

Author Kate Walker was inspired by a classic Gothic romance tale when she created "The Return of the Stranger", and she perfectly captured the darker, more brooding elements of the story in her own compelling style. As a young child, Heath Montanha had been rescued from street life by Mr. Nicholls and brought to live on the Nicholls farm in the shadow of the Charlton mansion. He had been close friends with young Catherine Nicholls, but he was always resented and rejected by her brother, Joe. Heath's dark, handsome looks and air of mystery earned him the label of "gipsy", and the local society kept him at a distance. After the death of Catherine's father, her brother Joe took over the farm, and his treatment of Heath became unbearable. Heath soon left everything behind and went to make his mark in the world. Ten years later, a wealthy and powerful man, he returns to the Yorkshire countryside with vengeance on his mind. Thinking that Catherine had betrayed him a decade ago, he wants to hurt her as she hurt him. In his absence, she had married Arthur Charlton, the son of the rich, entitled neighbors of the Nicholls farm. Now widowed, Catherine is facing financial disaster as well as the emotional repercussions of her late husband's debauched lifestyle. Heath and Catherine are both startled by the depth of their mutual attraction, which wars with bitter hurt. Despite Heath's long-simmering desire for Catherine, he remains determined to carry out his plan of revenge against Catherine and her brother, Joe. Heath has secrets which will change the lives of Catherine and her family forever, but will spending time with Catherine and her young nephew soften his hardened heart? Catherine never knew the real reason that Heath left so long ago, and her life has not been the pleasant picture painted for society. Her husband's cruelty and deceptions have left her with little self-esteem--can she trust the love she feels for Heath? "The Return of the Stranger" is a passionate, atmospheric reunion romance with a delicious touch of Gothic darkness. 


 The Italian's Forced Bride

THE ITALIAN'S FORCED BRIDE  by Kate Walker

Passion and emotion are equally powerful in author Kate Walker's poignant romance, "The Italian's Forced Bride". Domenico Parrisi never gave his heart, and no woman ever walked out on him. What he started, he brought to a halt when the time came. He worked hard, building his own fortune in the computer industry, and when he had time, he played just as hard as he worked. When he met Alice Howard, he never expected that she would be the exception to the rule. On a working holiday in Florence, Italy, Alice met Domenico at the restaurant where she waitressed. The chemistry was instant and combustible, and an immediate, highly passionate affair ensued. Domenico made it clear from the start that he had no interest in marriage--he had no interest in commitment. Alice tried to listen, letting her body do the thinking, but her heart had a louder voice. She fell in love, and then fell prey to vicious gossip about the Domenico and his "other woman". She left him and returned to England. Two months later, she sends word that she must speak with him, and soon he is angrily ringing the bell to her small cottage. Their meeting is fiery, passionate, and then changes all together when he discovers she is pregnant. He insists that they marry, but before the ceremony can take place, their child is lost to a miscarriage. Will the emotion which so often was hidden by the passion between fully bloom into a lasting love? Domenico is much more than the hard-edged business mogul known to the world, but can he let go of painful childhood secrets and trust his heart to Alice? Does she have the courage to once again take a chance on loving him? The title, "The Italian's Forced Bride", doesn't really do justice to this compelling romance from talented author Kate Walker. If you love heart-felt romance blended with sizzling passion, then you will very much enjoy this book.
 

The Proud Wife

THE PROUD WIFE  by Kate Walker

"The Proud Wife" wants nothing from the husband from whom she has been separated for two years. She keeps telling herself this over and over, right up until the moment she is once again face to face with the man she married. In author Kate Walker's touching, tempestuous romance, Englishwoman Marina Emerson was swept off her feet by the captivating charm of Prince Pietro D'inzeo of Sicily. Their whirlwind of passion resulted in an unplanned pregnancy and a quick marriage. Tragically, the baby was lost due to miscarriage, and the initial happiness between them was lost as well. Miscommunication and emotional barriers grew to the point where Marina could bear no more, and she left Pietro and his family home and returned to England. Two years later, Marina receives a royal summons from her princely husband to come to Sicily and officially end their marriage. Once they are in each other's company again, banked embers burst into life, and powerful emotions come to the surface. Both confused and filled with unexpected longing, can Marina and Pietro bring back to life the love they had thought to be long-dead? Can they face the issues which drove them apart and grow together as each of them grows as an individual? "The Proud Wife" is an intense, satisfying romance full of passion and emotional conflict.     

Sunday, May 19, 2013

THE "CADENCE OF GRACE" SERIES FROM AUTHOR JOANNE BISCHOF--a spiritual journey for two hearts in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century

 
Though My Heart Is Torn (The Cadence of Grace #2)
 
 
 
Gideon O’Riley has two wives—but he doesn’t know it.
  
Settling into a simple life in the majestic Blue Ridge mountains, Lonnie and Gideon O’Riley have finally found happiness after the rocky start to their marriage. The roguish bluegrass musician has fallen in love with his gentle wife and the God she serves, and Lonnie rests secure in his tenderness for her and their young son. A heartless ruse interrupts their peace, bringing them back to Rocky Knob—and forces them to face the claims of Cassie Allan, a woman who says she is Gideon’s rightful wife.

As Gideon wades into the depths of his past choices, Lonnie is stunned by the revelations. She has no choice but to navigate this new path, knowing that surviving the devastating blow will take every ounce of strength  she has.

While Gideon’s guilt  and his bitterness towards Cassie threatens to burn up his fledgling faith, Lonnie wrestles to find the courage to trust the God who brought them together in the first place. Will their hard-earned love be able to conquer all?

Lonnie only wanted her husband’s love. Now that he belongs to another, can she surrender Gideon to a God with a bigger plan?
 
 
 
Our lives here on Earth are an ongoing work in progress, as we face many trials and tribulations which test our faith. With the first book in her "Cadence of Grace" series, "Be Still My Soul", author Joanne Bischof introduced us to Lonnie Sawyer and Gideon O'Riley, who live in the rural poverty of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia at the beginning of the twentieth century. Lonnie is a shy young woman, blessed with a beautiful singing voice like her mother's. She and her siblings, along with their mother, live under the rule of her abusive father. Gideon is a young, handsome musician who would rather play music and pursue all-too-willing pretty young things than work for a living. A talented wood crafter, he chafes at other responsibilities. Due to a misunderstanding, Lonnie and Gideon are forced into marriage. Their journey to eventual happiness is filled with emotional strife, physical hardship, and spiritual searching. With book two in the series, "Though My Heart is Torn", Lonnie and Gideon look forward to a life of joy with their baby son Jacob, only to have a startling secret from Gideon's past shatter their carefully guarded hopes. Gideon never told Lonnie that his intimate relationship with Cassie Allan, a girl whom he knew before Lonnie, had led to a brief marriage. Later, Gideon and Cassie had signed divorce papers, and he did not know that she never filed the papers. Now, Cassie has come forward, claiming that she is still Gideon's wife, and she does not want a divorce. Through the decisions of the local clergy, the laws of the state, and the physical threats of Cassie's brothers, Gideon is forced to annul his marriage to Lonnie and renew his vows to Cassie. Heartbroken, Lonnie leaves Gideon behind and returns to the home they had found with an older couple on their farm. While Lonnie and Gideon long to be reunited, each must deal with the pain of their separation and the reasons why they are no longer together. Gideon's new and hard-won faith is greatly tested, and Lonnie, who has a deep, lifelong faith is emotionally battered. Will Gideon ever be free to return to Lonnie and Jacob? Author Joanne Bischof is an intriguing and compelling storyteller. Her works are exquisitely-wrought, heartrending, and surprising. At the core of her work is a great and abiding faith which ever reminds the reader that the Lord does not promise us that we will not suffer in life. He does promise that after we leave this world, those who believe in him will be given an everlasting life free of pain and suffering. I highly recommend the "Cadence of Grace" series, and I greatly look forward to book three, "My Hope is Found".

Review Copy Gratis Multnomah Books
 
 
 
Be Still My Soul (The Cadence of Grace #1)
 
 
 
Night’s chill tickled her skin. Lonnie pressed her hands together and glanced up. He was even more handsome up close. Having grown up the shy, awkward daughter of Joel Sawyer, she’d hardly spoken to any boy, let alone the one who had mothers whispering warnings in their daughter’s ears and fathers loading shotguns.
 
Pretty Lonnie Sawyer is shy and innocent, used to fading into the background within her family, and among the creeks and hollows of the Appalachian hills. Though her family is poor and her father abusive, she clings to a quiet faith.  But when handsome ladies’ man and bluegrass musician Gideon O’Riley steals a kiss, that one action seals her fate. 

Her father forces her into a hasty marriage with Gideon—a man she barely knows and does not love. Equally frustrated and confused by his new responsibilities, Gideon yearns for a fresh start, forcing  Lonnie on an arduous journey away from her home in Rocky Knob.

Her distant groom can’t seem to surrender his rage at the injustice of the forced matrimony or give Lonnie any claim in his life.  What will it take for Gideon to give up his past, embrace Lonnie’s God, and discover a hope that can heal their two fractured hearts?

Gideon only ever cared about himself. Now that Lonnie is his wife, will he ever be worthy of her heart?
 
 
 
 
I was born and raised, and still reside, in the beautiful mountains of Virginia. This is a timeless place--as much as things change, they remain the same. The constancy of the mountains is comforting and immovable. Author Joanne Bischof offers a look at life in rural Appalachia in "Be Still My Soul". Lonnie Sawyer and her mother and siblings live under the rule of Lonnie's abusive alcoholic father. Lonnie's refuge is her Aunt Sarah, who offers brief respites from family troubles with readings from the Bible in her home. Lonnie and her mother are both blessed with beautiful singing voices, and at one local musical get-together, her father's pushes her up on stage. When handsome mandolin player Gideon O'Riley walks her home and asks for a kiss, both of their lives are forever changed. At first reluctant, Lonnie agrees to a kiss, but ladies man Gideon wants much more. Ashamed, Lonnie breaks away and runs back to her house before Gideon can have his way. The next day, to her horror, she discovers that her father witnessed the kiss, and he assumes the worst. Lonnie and Gideon are forced by both their fathers into a quick marriage ceremony. Taken away from her family and home, and now married to a resentful man whom she barely knows, Lonnie struggles for emotional survival. Her faith is as indelible as the mountains themselves, but can she endure what awaits? Gideon grew up in a different atmosphere from Lonnie. He was not abused, but he felt trapped by the lifestyle of the generations which had come before him. His music and woodworking skill were his refuge. He was attractive to women, and he went from one to another without a care. Now he was married, and he no longer could drift along through life. Goaded by his friends and emboldened by moonshine liquor, Gideon does have his way with Lonnie, which they both regret. Gideon is not kind to Lonnie, leaving her no choice but to follow him as they walk away from their home area toward a town which may offer work. With no money, and no transportation, they walk and walk, day after day. They find shelter with a kind older couple, Jebediah and Elsie, who have a nice homestead. Having witnessed Gideon's less than kind treatment of Lonnie, Jeb is a stern taskmaster, and Gideon works harder than he ever has in his life. Lonnie discovers that she is expecting a baby, adding to the chains of responsibility which weigh heavily on Gideon. At times, "Be Still My Soul" is tough to read. The poverty, abuse, alcoholism, and lack of education are all part of a continuing cycle. Yet, there is beauty to be found, as faith shines through, and hearts grow together as life goes on. While some never escape from the bleakness of an impoverished existence, others find riches beyond compare in an abiding faith. Gideon and Lonnie endure much, each having to find their own path before they meet as one heart. Highly recommended.

Review Copy Gratis Multnomah Books
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

REVIEW: "Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida" by Sherry Gore

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida
 
 
 
Unbeknownst to many folks outside the Amish Mennonite population in America, Pinecraft, Florida---a village tucked away in the heart of Sarasota---is the vacation paradise of the Plain People. Unlike any other Plain community in the world, this village is a virtual melting pot of Amish and Mennonites from around the world, intermingled with people, like author Sherry Gore's family, who live there year-round. Gore has put together a cookbook that represents the people who make Pinecraft unique. With hundreds of easy-to-prepare recipes, 16 full-color photographs and black-and-white photographs throughout, this cookbook includes traditional favorites such as Sweet Potato Sweet Mash and Mrs. Byler's Glazed Donuts, as well as Florida favorites including Fried Alligator Nuggets, Grilled Lime Fish Fillets, and Strawberry Mango Smoothies. Interspersed with the recipes are true-life stories about births, engagements, weddings, deaths, funerals, celebrations, wildlife encounters, and accidents told through years of Sherry's Letters from Home column published in The Budget, the Amish newspaper. This delightful cookbook offers readers a faith-based, family-focused perspective of the simple way of life of the Plain People. It is truly a breath of fresh air from Sarasota, Florida!
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories from the Amish of Sarasota, Florida" is a true delight from cover to cover. Author Sherry Gore offers over 300 recipes, which range from traditional Amish favorites to seafood and other recipes with a Florida influence, and many cooking tips and helpful hints. Mouth-watering vivid color photographs of many of the prepared recipes are also included. Compiled over a three-year period during which her daughter was often hospitalized, the recipes and stories were shared by Amish communities across the country. The book also includes a history of the Amish and Mennonite orders from their origins in Switzerland to their beginnings in America. The Pinecraft Community in Sarasota, Florida started in 1926, and is now a thriving community and popular Winter retreat for Amish and Mennonite families. According to Sherry Gore, Amish food is special because "it is traditional American cooking at its best", and it "makes visitors, whether old friends or strangers, feel welcome". Here is a sampling of some the delightful recipes which are shared: "Dutch Dinner Rolls"; "Morning Glory Muffins"; "Farmer's Skillet"; "Cheeseburger Soup"; "Hot Bacon Dressing for Dandelion Greens"; "Amish Church Dinner"; "Hand-Breaded Pork Chops and Creamy Country Gravy"; "Fabulous Grilled Fish and Shrimp Dinner"; "Sand Dollar Sugar Cookies"; "Three-Layer Strawberries and Cream Cake"; and "Zucchini Relish". I was quite delighted to see a recipe for my grandfather's favorite dessert: "Premium Gingerbread with Old-Fashioned Lemon Sauce"--topped with whipped cream, of course!
 
 
Review Copy Gratis Zondervan Books via Booksneeze
 
 
 
Sherry Gore
 
 
 
Sherry Gore is the author of Simply Delicious Amish Cooking (formerly titled Taste of Pinecraft) and is the editor-in-chief of Cooking and Such magazine, which has been called 'completely heartwarming and visually stunning' by Amish novelist Cindy Woodsmall . Sherry is also a weekly scribe for the national edition of the 120-year-old Amish newspaper, The Budget. The National Geographic Channel featured Sherry prominently in the 2012 debut season of their documentary series, Amish: Out of Order. Sherry is a year-round resident of beautiful, sun-kissed Sarasota, Florida, the vacation paradise of the Plain People. She has three children and is a member of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church. She's a caregiver to her twenty-two-year-old daughter, a Sunday school teacher, a cooking show host, and an official pie contest judge. As an author and longtime resident of Pinecraft, Sherry has worked with local Sarasota County government and various travel groups to generate interest for this unique and beautiful village.
 
 
 

REVIEW: "Firefly Island"--engaging, involving, contemporary inspirational fiction from author Lisa Wingate

Firefly Island
 
 
 
At thirty-four, congressional staffer Mallory Hale is about to embark on an adventure completely off the map. After a whirlwind romance, she is hopelessly in love with two men--fortunately, they're related. Daniel Everson and his little boy, Nick, are a package deal, and Mallory suddenly can't imagine her future without them. Mallory couldn't be more shocked when Daniel asks her to marry him, move to Texas, and form a family with him and motherless Nick. The idea is both thrilling and terrifying. Mallory takes a leap of faith and begins a sweet, mishap-filled journey into ranch living, Moses Lake society, and a marriage that at times reminds her of the mail-order-bride stories. But despite the wild adventure of her new life, she discovers secrets and questions beneath her rosy new life. Can she find answers on Firefly Island, a little chunk of property just off the lakeshore, where mysterious lights glisten at night?
 
 
 
 
Author Lisa Wingate writes in an engaging, fresh and funny style that is also heartwarming and inspiring. Her latest "Moses Lake" series entry is "Firefly Island", the tale of a woman who left Capitol Hill in a romantic whirlwind and found a life far beyond her imagining in a tiny, remote Texas town. When Mallory Hale met Daniel Everson, she was a newly-hired legal assistant for a senior congressman, and she had just dropped the collective papers that formed an important bill all over the floor of the Capitol building. Handsome, green-eyed, and gallant, Daniel helped her to retrieve the papers. Later, they would meet again in a twist of fate, and from that moment on, they became an item. Daniel informs Mallory that he has a young son, whose mother chose not to be a part of his life, and she wonders how the boy will change their relationship. Once she has met young Nick, she is as much taken with him as she is with his father, and the three of them are a happy trio. When Daniel, a biochemist for the USDA, is offered a job in Moses Lake, TX, he is thrilled. The position also includes housing, a car, and paid utilities, and Daniel sees Nick enjoying a childhood much like the one Daniel experienced with the freedom to explore the outdoors. Mallory is at a loss, thinking of how desolate her life will be without her two guys, but Daniel surprises her by proposing marriage so that the three of them can stay together. Even though they have only known each other a month, Mallory accepts, and prepares to leave behind the only life she has ever known. After breaking the news to their families, they are wed, and the adventure begins. Just before they leave for Texas, Mallory's brother-in-law drops the bombshell that Daniel's new employer, Jack West, is a man of mystery with a cloud of controversy hanging over his head. The long drive to their destination is tense, incident-prone, and complicated by a cranky, car-sick child. When they arrive at their new "home", it is late at night, and with no electricity, they sink into an exhausted sleep in the encompassing, cloaking darkness. The clarifying light of day exposes the rustic interior of the "ranch house", complete with trophy-kill animals stuffed and mounted on the walls--even in the bathroom. Determined to forge ahead, Mallory makes the best of the worst, getting to know her husband and learning how to be a mom all along the way. Eventually she will begin to write about her new home life and the people she meets, and she details her experiences in "The Frontier Woman" blog. When her curiosity leads her to discover a political scandal just outside her own front door, she will once again find herself on Capitol Hill. This time, she is fighting for a cause that hits all too close to home. "Firefly Island" is an involving and entertaining romantic story that is also thoughtful and touching. The first two books in the "Moses Lake" series are "Larkspur Cove" and "Blue Moon Bay".

Review Copy Gratis Bethany House Books
 
 
 
Image of Lisa Wingate
 
 
Lisa Wingate is a magazine columnist, inspirational speaker, and the author of a host of mainstream fiction novels, including the national bestseller, Tending Roses, which is currently in its fourteenth reprint. Her books have been featured selections for Doubleday and Literary Guild book clubs, selected for The Reader's Club of America, and have garnered LORIES Best Fiction and Reader's Choice Awards, and been nominated for the ACFW Book of the Year Award. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Lisa loves sharing with readers via Facebook, Youtube, and her website. More information about Lisa's novels can be found at www.Lisawingate.com

"Elvis & Mama"--how my mother's sacrifice for me lead to her moment of a lifetime--plus Mama's recipes

 
 
 
August 16, 2013 will be the 36th Anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley. No one could ever replace Elvis, and no one could ever take his place in my mother' heart. Here is the true story of how my mother's sacrifice for me led to her moment of a lifetime.


January 8, 1935 is the birth date of one of the most incredible entertainers who ever lived--Elvis Presley. It's hard to believe that Elvis would now be 77 years old, and it's even harder to believe that almost forty years have passed since I saw him in concert in Roanoke, a popular stop throughout his concert career. Even though I was in one of the "high altitude" seats in the civic center, the power, passion, and potency of this magnificent performer could barely be contained by the walls of the structure. It was April 11, 1972, and I was thirteen years old. I have been a fan of Elvis since I was old enough to recognize him on TV. During my growing up years, I never missed an "Elvis movie" at our local theater. At the time of this performance, Elvis was 37 years old, and he was in his prime. Mercy!


It was only natural that I would adore Elvis. My Mama was one of the all-time greatest Elvis fans who ever drew a breath. She was so well known as his fan that even casual acquaintances would bring back souvenirs from Graceland and give them to her for her collection. When a series of Elvis collectible dolls became available at one of our local stores, I almost lost my life making sure that I got one for Mama, but I will save that story for another day. I have written numerous articles and commentaries about Elvis, and I definitely have an "Elvis book" inside my soul. However, my greatest story is the one about Mama and Elvis, and how her sacrifice for me resulted in her ultimate reward.


A very good friend and coworker of my mother's had obtained four tickets for the concert, and she wanted Mama to join her and two sisters in attending the show. Well, of course Mama was thrilled, but she didn't want to go without me, so the five of us went with only four tickets. We squeezed together into the coworker's dark blue VW Beetle, and off we went, with Mama sure that somehow things would work out so that all of us would see Elvis. I am five-feet-ten, and so were Mama's friend and her sisters. Mama was the shrimp at five-feet-five. We were like sardines in a can, but what an adventure!


When we got to the civic center, there was no way to obtain a fifth seat anywhere for the concert, and Mama would not allow me to miss seeing Elvis. She asked for the keys to the car and said she would wait on us, and that she would probably be able to hear some of the concert outside the building. I did not want to see the show without Mama, and I felt tremendously guilty about being inside while she was outside waiting. In fact, I kept saying how bad I felt until our friends told me in a nice way to "shut up". I was also very worried about Mama being out there somewhere on her own. I should have never underestimated my mother. She said all along that things would work out, and they couldn't have worked out better if they had been planned with meticulous detail. When we left Mama inside the entrance of the civic center, she didn't immediately try to go back to the car. She decided to call home and let my grandparents know that we made it okay, and so she went and closed herself up in the phone booth to make the call. When she came out of the booth, everyone was gone and the doors were locked. All of the civic center people had gone into the show so they wouldn't miss Elvis, and they had locked Mama in the building! She couldn't find anyone to help her, so she followed everyone else's lead and went inside to the show. No one stopped her or asked her what she was doing, so she walked straight down to the stage area and watched the whole concert from ten feet away from the stage. She was able to describe the color of Elvis' eyes, count all of his rings and admire the detail work of his jumpsuit and cape. All the while that I was up in the rafters making everyone miserable, Mama was front and center having the time of her life! I will never forget the weird, almost other-worldly sensation of going through the inner doors when the show let out and hearing Mama call me from behind. Behind? She was in the parking lot all by herself, possibly in peril--wasn't she? No, she wasn't! I finally turned around, and there she was behind me in the crowd, waving madly. Her face was lit from within, and she looked like a kid who caught the real Santa Claus placing presents under the tree. Mama sacrificed her concert seat for me, and she ended up with the best seat in the house! I don't know if you believe in miracles, but as for me and Mama, we believed.


Mama worked at our local hospital for over thirty years. The original hospital had an old-fashioned "plug-in" switchboard, of which Mama was the master. The day that Elvis died, August 16, 1977, Mama was working the switchboard as part of her duties as an admissions clerk. The hospital was flooded with calls, and the switchboard was lit up and humming. Most of the calls were for Mama. When Elvis died, she was the first person that many people thought of, and they called to check on her and offer their condolences. It took me a while to reach her, and then we shared our disbelief. In fact, she was one of the people who didn't believe that Elvis was really dead, and as long as Mama lived, he lived in her heart. I like to believe that when she passed away, she was met at the gates of Heaven by a man dressed all in white--a white jumpsuit, that is. What beautiful music they make! Mama on the keyboard, and Elvis singing Gospel with all his might.


Have you ever made a sacrifice for someone and unexpectedly received much more in return? Has someone made such a sacrifice for you? Do you believe in your inner voice? Have you ever followed your inner voice when no one else believed in your intuition? Do you have some new authors and titles that you can't wait to explore in the new year? What is the upcoming book or book series that you most anticipate? To start you off with some food for thought and great reads, I am sharing Mama's recipes and some "Elvis-themed" books.



 FIT FOR A KING is my favorite of all my "Elvis" books. This book is overflowing with recipes, photos, inside information and wonderful, sweet memories. FIT FOR A KING was put together with thoughtfulness and sincerity. So many of the other books about Elvis are just an excuse to use his name and image. If you like music, food, nostalgia, and most of all, Elvis himself, then you will truly appreciate FIT FOR A KING. Review >>>



 GRACELAND'S TABLE is filled with amazing personal stories, beautiful photos, touching and humorous insights, and an astounding variety of recipes. The food is fabulous--ranging from down-home good cookin' to creative culinary delights! I am Southern to the bone. I have loved Elvis since I was a little girl. For almost 50 years, I lived with a legendary Elvis fan--my Mama! "Graceland's Table" proudly resides among my collection of Elvis memorabilia. Good cookin' tonight!!! Review >>>



 EXPOSURE: This fun and involving romantic suspense story from Susan Andersen features a hunky hero with a hook--that's right, one hand and one hook. Sheriff Elvis Donnelly (we need more heroes named Elvis) is six-feet-six of solid muscle with laser-blue eyes and thick, dark hair. He also has a metal hook in place of one hand, and an angry, jagged scar on his handsome face. Review >>>





ELVIS BY THE PRESLEYS reveals life at Graceland like never before. We witness the arc of his love affair with Priscilla; Elvis as a father to his adored Lisa Marie; his obsessions and passions; and the strength of his musical legacy, which continues unabated to this day. There are Christmas cards here, too; contracts and invoices; selections from Lisa Marie’s childhood scrapbook; and even a picture of the champagne bottle (signed) from Elvis and Priscilla’s wedding." Read more >>>





"When George Klein was an eighth grader at Humes High, he couldn’t have known how important the new kid with the guitar—the boy named Elvis—would later become in his life. But from the first time GK (as he was nicknamed by Elvis) heard this kid sing, he knew that Elvis Presley was someone extraordinary. During Elvis’s rise to fame and throughout the wild swirl of his remarkable life, Klein was a steady presence and one of Elvis’s closest and most loyal friends until his untimely death in 1977." Read more >>>


Butter-Fried Chicken

one whole chicken, cut into fryer pieces
one to two sticks real butter
flour
salt & pepper
poultry seasoning

In a large ziploc bag, add about one cup flour with a good shake of salt & pepper and a pinch of poultry seasoning. Add chicken pieces a few at a time and shake in sealed bag to coat well. Repeat until all chicken pieces are well-coated. Save any leftover flour mixture to make pan gravy. In a large (10 inch), deep cast iron skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add chicken pieces and cook until crispy brown on bottom. Turn chicken pieces and cook until well-done and golden, crispy brown. Arrange chicken pieces on serving platter. While skillet is hot, brown leftover flour in grease (add extra flour if needed). Carefully add enough cold water (be careful of hot grease splatters) to make gravy. Stir gravy continuously until smooth and thick. If needed, add extra seasoning to taste.


Mama's Summer Salad

one red ripe tomato
one yellow ripe tomato
one cucumber
one bell pepper
one onion
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light cooking oil
salt & pepper to taste

Cut vegetables into bite-sized chunks and mix together in a large bowl. In a small bowl, dissolve sugar with vinegar. Blend in oil. Add salt & pepper to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and stir well. Cover and chill. Flavor improves overnight. Stir salad well before serving.


Yellow Cake with Caramel Icing

one two-layer size butter-flavored yellow cake mix
Prepare cake mix as directed for two cake layers. Bake and allow to cool.

Icing:

2 c. white granulated sugar
2 c. brown sugar
2 sticks butter
1 sm. can evaporated milk plus a small amount of milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine sugar, butter, and evaporated milk (pour evaporated milk in a measuring cup and fill to 1 cup with whole milk). Place in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and cook to the soft ball stage. Add vanilla extract. Cool and beat until creamy. Spread quickly over cooled cake.


Mom's Cole Slaw

Dressing:

1 c. mayonnaise
3 tbsp. sugar
3 tbsp. cider vinegar
1 tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seeds

Stir together all ingredients. Cover; chill. Makes 1 1/4 cups.

To make slaw:

Shred one small head fresh green cabbage and place in a medium glass bowl. Finely shred several carrots and add to cabbage. Stir to combine. Add one small green pepper and one small onion, both finely chopped. Stir to combine. Add dressing to slaw mixture and stir to mix well. Cover tightly and chill overnight. Stir well before serving.


Lemon-Lime Poke Cake

one 2-layer size lemon cake mix
Prepare cake mix as directed for 13x9 inch pan. Bake cake and allow to completely cool.

one small box lime gelatin
one cup boiling water

whipped topping frosting:

1 c. milk
1 small pkg. instant vanilla pudding
1 (8 oz.) container non-dairy whipped topping, thawed

Blend milk and instant pudding. When partially set and beginning to thicken, fold in whipped topping. Ready to spread in a few minutes.

In a small bowl, combine lime gelatin and boiling water. Stir until well dissolved. Allow to cool to room temperature. With the handle tip of a wooden spoon, evenly poke holes down through the baked and cooled sheet cake. Pour the lime gelatin liquid evenly over the surface of the cake, using all of the liquid. Frost immediately with whipped topping frosting and store loosely covered in refrigerator. Better when chilled overnight.


Betty's Baked Beans

1 large can of pork & beans (or 2 16oz cans)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup of ketchup
2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
couple of shakes of hot sauce
dash of salt & pepper
6 slices bacon

Add all ingredients to a greased baking dish and stir together (with the exception of the bacon). Place bacon strips over the top of the beans and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes to an hour. (Beans are ready when the bacon is completely cooked)


Comfort-Food Hamburger Steak & Gravy

one pound lean ground beef
salt & pepper
one onion, rough-chopped
one green pepper, rough-chopped
3 tbsp. butter
flour
water
Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
pinch of sugar

Season ground beef with salt & pepper and form into patties. Melt butter over medium-low heat and add beef patties. Cook until well done, turning once. After patties are done, remove from pan and place on a plate. Add a few tablespoons of flour to hot grease in skillet and stir until browned. Carefully add about two cups cold water, stirring continuously. Add a couple of shakes Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper to taste, and just a pinch of sugar. Stir and add in onions and peppers. Carefully add patties to gravy in skillet. Reduce heat to low and simmer until onions and peppers are softened. Serve with mashed potatoes, rice, or noodles.


Shredded Carrot Salad with Raisins

1 pound carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup mayonnaise, or to taste
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
chopped peanuts for topping

Put grated carrots in a large bowl; toss with remaining ingredients, except. Chill thoroughly. Top with chopped peanuts before serving.


Waldorf Salad

2 cups cubed apples, unpeeled (use firm, slightly tart apples)
1 cup seedless green grapes, halved
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2/3 cup mayonnaise

In a large bowl, combine fruit and nuts; mix lightly. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Blend in mayonnaise. Pour dressing over salad and stir to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for at least until well-chilled.


Quick Kraut

one 1 lb can chopped sauerkraut
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp caraway seed
1 chopped unpeeled cored apple

Empty sauerkraut into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer until apple is cooked down, stirring occasionally.


Canned Ham with Sweet & Tangy Glaze

one 5 lb canned ham
whole cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp prepared yellow or brown mustard

Score top of ham and stud with whole cloves. Bake per package directions. Prepare glaze by combining sugar, juice, and mustard in a small bowl. During last 15 minutes of baking, pour glaze evenly over ham. Bake until done, spooning glaze up over ham. Allow ham to cool, spooning up glaze to coat ham.


Company Corn Casserole

1 sm. onion, diced
1/4 green pepper, diced
1 stick butter
1 (16 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (16 oz.) can cream style corn
1 (6 3/4 oz.) box corn muffin mix
3 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1/4 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Saute onion, green pepper in butter over low heat. Allow to cool until just warm. In a medium bowl, combine sauteed mixture (including butter), kernel corn, creamed corn, muffin mix,eggs, and sour cream. Mix well. Pour into a greased 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 45 minutes Bake until puffy and lightly browned.


Savory Southern-Style Green Beans & Potatoes

1/2 lb. bacon, uncooked, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
3 cups (approximately) of fresh or frozen cut green beans,
2 medium red potatoes, unpeeled, medium-diced
Chicken stock, to cover
1 tsp. sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

If using fresh green beans, remove the ends and snap in half or cut; rinse and set aside. Add the bacon directly into a large saucepan and cook over low heat until it begins to brown. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. If using fresh or frozen beans, saute them in the cooked bacon and onion for a bit first, and then add the potatoes to the beans. Pour over enough chicken broth to cover. Add sugar, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let them low for 20 minutes, or until potatoes and beans are tender.


Sweet Potato Pie

1 (9 inch deep-dish) unbaked pastry shell
1 lb. (2 med.) yams or sweet potatoes, cooked and peeled**
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs

sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In large mixer bowl, mash yams with butter. Add remaining ingredients except pastry shell and eggs. Beat until mixture is smooth and well blended. Stir in eggs. Pour into prepared pastry shell. Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool. Serve topped with sweetened whipped cream. Refrigerate leftovers.
**TIP: 1 (16 or 17 oz.) can sweet potatoes or yams, drained, can be substituted for fresh. Melt butter. Proceed as above.


Black-Eyed Peas with Ham

2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 15-ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained well
1/2 piece smoked ham, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 1/2 tsp dried parsley flakes
hot sauce to taste

Cook celery and onions with 1/4 each tsp salt and pepper in oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and begin to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add 1 cup water and simmer 3 minutes. Add peas and ham and simmer, covered, just until heated through, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and season with hot sauce to taste.


Baked Stewed Tomatoes

2 (15 oz) cans sliced stewed tomatoes (with celery & onion)
2 tbsp sugar
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups bread cubes (the drier the bread, the better)
1 stick butter, sliced

Butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish. Pour in stewed tomatoes. Sprinkle evenly with sugar. Lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Evenly spread bread cubes over top of tomatoes. Place butter slices evenly spread out over bread cubes. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until tomatoes are bubbly, and bread is well toasted. Check after 20 minutes, and watch to make sure bread doesn't burn.


Gran's Mac & Cheese

Comfort food from Gran herself : )

Boil 16oz elbow macaroni in large pan of salted water until slightly undercooked. Drain pasta quickly so that it will not continue to cook in hot water. Butter a 13in by 9in baking pan. Layer pasta with at least 16oz grated sharp cheddar cheese (sharper the better). Feel free to be very cheesey! Pour one pint of half-and-half or heavy cream over pasta and cheese. Add some whole milk if needed to bring liquid to top of pasta and cheese. Dot with slices of real butter and a very light sprinkle of coarsely ground black pepper. Liberally top off with grated Parmesan cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Let Mac & Cheese set in covered pan for 10 minutes before serving.