Sunday, May 03, 2015

Caedmons' Song by Peter Robinson
Alas, no DCI Alan Banks in this one.....

I should pay better attention when I order books. This is a novel by Peter Robinson, the Yorkshireman who writes the Inspector Banks series. This book, Caedemon’s Song, did not feature Banks at all and I have to say I was disappointed when I realized this. But….my fault for not carefully reading the description before I clicked “buy”, right?


Robinson stated he wanted to take a break from the DCI Banks series and write from the victim’s point of view, rather than the police procedural type. The premise of this story revolves around a young lady named Kirsten who was brutally attacked one evening as she walks home alone through a park. The wounds she suffers are horrific. She survived only because she was found by a man walking his dog, otherwise she would have bled out. Kirsten wakes up in hospital over a week later, unaware of what happened to her. She has no memory of the attack. Her parents are in the hospital room with her, concerned about the injuries and how they will affect the rest of her life. The police question her, desperate to find her attacker but no matter how hard she tries she has no recollection of that night.

More women are attacked but they do not survive. Kirsten undergoes hypnotic therapy and slowly, the nightmare of the attack and details surface. She provides the police with as much detail as she cares to share with them but decides she has her own agenda as far as her attacker goes. I can’t reveal any more without spoiling the storyline.

I am a big fan of Peter Robinson but I will say I prefer the Inspector Banks series over this story. Well written, kept me reading and the first clue confirming what I suspected didn’t appear until 30 pages before the end. So that’s good, the reader didn’t have it all figured out early on.

Adding my review to Goodreads, The British Book Challenge.

BBC pointed shaded

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Ice Chest Pork

We were talking about grilling and BBQ last week at work and my boss mentioned he had some Ice-Chest Pork. Right after he said that his expression changed as he relived the meal.

You know the look, when your head tilts back and your eyes close slightly, you say Ooooo, that was so good, nodding for emphasis. Well now I need to know what Ice-Chest Pork is and how it’s prepared. My boss loves BBQ and grilled meats so, for him to give that sort of reaction, I know it’s good.

It is. As a matter of fact it’s so good we may never have a pork roast grilled any other way.

Here is a photo of the shredded pork with baked beans and cheese grits.


Sadly, I did not document the process with photos but you can imagine it all as I describe it. Super simple.

If you want to use wood chucks for the smoke, soak a good handful in water an hour before you prepare your charcoal. We used Applewood chunks.

Using your choice of dry rub, get this onto the roast prior while the charcoal is burning. Doug always uses charcoal but I know you could do this with a gas grill too.

Using indirect heat, place the roast on the grill and cover, keeping the temperature at 300 degrees. Let it cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, depending on how large your roast is.

After 2 hours, wrap the roast in foil, a good sturdy foil or wrap it a few times with thin foil. We didn’t have a good sturdy foil on hand so we had to wrap it several times.
Place it back on the grill, cover, add more charcoal is necessary, and cook another hour and a half.

Here comes the part with the ice chest. If you have a cooler or ice chest the roast will fit inside snuggly, that’s the one you want to use. Wrap the roast (with the foil on) in towels. I used a beach towel and wrapped it snuggly. Place it inside the cooler and let sit for hours. There isn't any ice involved - you are just using the chest.

Doug started the grill at 10 and was done by 1:30. This was a 4 pound roast. After 1:30 the roast went in the cooler and we ate it at 6:00 that same evening. It was still warm when he took the foil off.

Amazingly tender, shredded with forks.

As I said, we may never cook one again without using this method, it’s wonderful.

A shout out to my boss for turning us on to Ice Chest Pork! I will most certainly get photos of this, step-by-step, next time we have it.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cherry and Chocolate = A Beautiful Marriage

I have a lovely little dessert to share with you today. My Welsh friend and culinary twin Jo sent me the link to 19 wonderfully, sinfully easy dump cakes. The one I tried first was a cherry chocolate variety. Only three ingredients, yes…three!

It can be prepared in under 10 minutes and bakes for 1 hour.


This worked out splendidly as our son and his family came over for dinner last week. Our dinner menu consisted of grilled ice –box pork (I will definitely be writing about that later), baked sweet potatoes, green beans and rolls. Once the oven was freed up from the sweet potatoes I simply popped the prepared baking dish with the luscious cherries and chocolate into the hot oven. It cooked while we enjoyed our dinner and conversation. Perfect, right?!

A simple, 3 ingredient chocolate lovers dessert. Best served hot from the oven, topped with whipped cream, frozen vanilla yogurt or ice cream.


And yeah….I know it’s a mix but sometimes there is a time crunch or you are just tired. This is perfect for an impromptu sweet. What I would do differently next time is only use 1 can of cherries and half the boxed cake mix. It made sooooo much. Even for four people it was way too much to have leftover.


Next recipe from BuzzFeed will be the peach coconut. I gave the kids the choice of that one or the chocolate cherry. My daughter-in-law doesn’t like coconut and so that’s why we tried this one first. Can’t you just hear George Bailey from it’s a Wonderful Life. You know the scene where he’s fussing at Mary at the soda fountain counter?


Young George: Make up your mind yet?
Young Mary: I'll take chocolate.
Young George: With coconuts?
Young Mary: I don't like coconuts.
Young George: Don't like coconuts? Say brainless, don't you know where coconuts come from? [pulls out a National Geographic magazine] Look-it here, from Tahiti, the Fiji Islands, Coral Sea.
Young Mary: A new magazine! I never saw it.
Young George: 'Course you never. This is just for explorers. It just so happens I've been nominated for membership in the National Geographic Society. I'm going out exploring some day, just you watch. And I might even have a harem, and maybe even one or two wives.

Anyway, next time I want to expand the waistline we’ll try the peach coconut variety. We just won’t have company and we’ll half the recipe.

Ok, here is the recipe. Check out BuzzFeed and 19 Dump Cakes to see more.

· 2 20 ounce cans cherry pie filling
· 1 18.5 ounce box Devil's Food Cake Mix, unprepared
· ¾ cup butter, melted
1. Preheat oven to 350°F
2. Dump cherry pie filling into a 13x9 inch cake pan. Spread evenly out in pan.
3. Top cherry pie filling with unprepared cake mix. Spread evenly as possible.
4. Drizzle melted butter over the top.
5. Bake for 1 hour.
6. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


I am sharing this with Beth Fish Reads for her Weekend Cooking Series.

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Nigella's Potluck Chicken,
From Nigella Bites

Happy Monday! It's Potluck time at I Heart Cooking Club! This week I am submitting a Nigella Lawson recipe.

We love, love, love chicken meals at our home and this roast pan recipe is easy and healthy. That's a win-win, right? We also like sweet potatoes quite a bit so a few good sized sweeties were peeled and tossed into the pan. It made enough for leftovers which is always great for us.


From Nigella Bites
· 9 chicken thigh fillets (skin on)
· ¼ lemon
· kosher salt
· sprig fresh rosemary (or thyme)
· olive oil
· ¼ cup chicken broth (or white wine for deglazing later)
· 2 large carrots (cut into spears)
· 2 large parsnips (cut into spears)
· 2 sweet potatoes (peeled and cut into bite sized pieces)
· 1 red bell pepper (cut into chunks)
· 1 large sweet onion (cut into chunks)
· 1 bulb fennel (cut into chunks)


1. Scatter the vegetables in a large flat bottomed roasting pan. Douse lightly with oil and a bit of salt and toss until they and the bottom of the pan are lightly oiled.

2. Cut off excess fat from thighs, not obsessively, just the large chunks.

3. Rub thighs all over with the lemon and put them in the pan with the veggies. Bash the rosemary or thyme sprigs a bit to release oils and toss them in.

4. Remove the pulp and cut the lemon peel in thin ¼ in strips and add to the pan. Toss everything until the chicken is coated with a bit of the oil. Rearrange the chicken so that it is evenly distributed on top of the veggies, skin side up.

5. To get fancy you can sit each thigh on top of a bit of rosemary or thyme. Sprinkle a bit of kosher salt over each piece of chicken. Roast at 375 degrees until chicken is cooked thru and skin crispy, takes about 40-55 mins or so depending on chicken size.

6. You dont have to stir or turn anything. Remove the chicken and let rest on a plate. If you cover it the skin will go soggy, it will stay warm uncovered for at least 10 minutes.

7. Remove the veggies with a slotted spoon to a sheet pan and if keep them warm in the oven. If they could use extra browning, broil them for couple of minutes while you make pan sauce.

8. Pour of any excess fat from the original pan, then deglaze the pan with stock or wine scraping up delicious brown bits .

9. Test for seasoning, keep warm then serve the sauce on the side in a little dipping vessel, you only need a bit.

Join us at I heart Cooking Club. You can sleect any of the previously featured chefs or stick with Jacques pepin. Always good eatin' at this site.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chicken and Mushrooms, Jacques Pepin style

What is going on here in our part of world? Not much exciting actually. But that can be a good thing. No injuries, no sick dogs, no trees falling on the house. Our garden is coming along well and we have been fortunate enough to get quiet time for reading. Life is good.

As for the food department I have been looking into recipes by Jacques Pepin. They are into week three of cooking with Jacques Pepin at I Heart Cooking Club. Since we are big fans of any chicken dish I will be submitting this chicken thigh loaded with mushrooms.

Eating outside on the patio makes the meal even more enjoyable. The recipe calls for you to plate the thighs and then add the mushroom mixture. I just placed it all on one platter. I'm fancy like that.

Jacques Pepin's Chicken Thighs
From More Fast Food My Way


4 chicken thighs, bone in with skin
3⁄4teaspoon salt
3⁄4teaspoon black pepper
1small onion, finely diced
3large garlic cloves, chopped
10 ounces mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch dice
1⁄3cup dry white wine
chives, chopped, for garnish


Preheat oven to 175F. Cut extra skin and fat off each thigh. Cut a 1/2 " slit into meat on either side of the bone, so that chicken will cook faster and evenly. Season thighs with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper.

Place chicken into non-stick skillet, skin side down, on high heat.

When chicken starts to sizzle, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 16-18 minutes. If browning too quickly after 10 minutes, reduce heat to low.

Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a heat proof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Pepin recommends keeping your serving plates in the oven so that they will be warm when you plate the chicken.

Remove all but 2 tbsp of fat from the skillet. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms. Cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper and white wine. If any liquid has accumulated on the platter in the oven, add that liquid to the pan. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, to reduce the liquid a bit.

Divide the mushroom mixture between 4 plates. Place one piece of chicken on top and garnish with chives to serve. I just placed it all on one platter. It was great!

This is my offering to I Heart Cooking Club.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Reader's Workout #6


Good day and welcome to my sixth link up with Joy at Joy's Book Blog for her Reader's Workouts series!

Rain can put a damper on daily walks but we do what we can by walking a bit after lunch at work. Fortunately there is a covered parking garage and while it’s not flat out sweaty-lose-weight kinda walking….it’s movement. We have done some walking back and forth up and down the driveway too I addition to the slow patrol with the dogs. Taking them to the park provides better walks and we try that a few days a week.

In regard to eating and imbibing I have been fairly good…well, ever since my doctor told me to cut back on alcohol and lose some weight. That was over those pesky liver enzyme numbers being too high.

When the weather gets nice enough to sit outside on the patio and enjoy dinner that’s when it’s tempting to have cocktail or glass of wine. A sample of our patio meals are:

Grilled chicken, potatoes, beans one night and sides of okra and black beans with leftovers.

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Cheese ravioli with homemade sauce, beans and a cool glass of Rose.


Mostly it’s healthy fare but I surely do need to cut back on fats.

Since it’s Reader’s Workout let’s talk books! I just finished The Good Girl by Mary Kubica, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and The Love Song of Queenie Hennessy. I am reading Caedmon’s Song now.

What are you reading now? What is on your to-read list?

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Oysters and beer in Apalachicola

Sometimes you just need a mental health day from work. A day when you sleep a little longer. A day when you read during the day, drive to coast and eat an expensive lunch just because.

We set out for Apalachicola, a small coastal town an hour away from our home.


Nothing like the salty air, the snap of the breeze and the seafood offerings at various locally owned businesses.
We opted for Boss Oyster, a place we have been before and loved.


We started with a dozen raw oysters, lemon and hot sauce for Doug and horseradish me me.


Red Stripe for him. Negra Modelo for me.


Follow it up with a grilled crab cake sandwich and cheese grits. Yes, it's grilled and not fried! I didn't know they could do that.


Nice view from the outside dining area.....


We had a great time. I always have a great time with Doug. We walked around after the lunch and bought a few postcards and a box of chocolate coconut patties.

His handlebar mustache is coming along quite well, don't you think?


A last photo from the bridge as we departed. Goodbye Apalachicola....for now.


Pity I didn't take photos of the patio dinner we enjoyed that evennig. Grilled mahi mahi and fruit. That's for another time and post.

Now we are counting down the days until vacation. Time to make some plans.

Monday, April 13, 2015

It's Monday, What are you reading?
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

Happy Monday! I have a haul of books from the library, both eBooks and hard cover's hard to pick one to get started reading. Why do they always arrive all at once? The latest one I finished was fairly short, under 400 pages.

Mary Kubica is a new author for me and I am glad I grabbed her book The Good Girl.

This book is written with multiple narratives which I found interesting. The plot revolves around the kidnapping of Mia Dennett. From the beginning of this book you know Mia has been kidnapped and that she is sequestered in a cabin in Minnesota with kidnapper Colin Thatcher.

Mia is the daughter of a prominent judge James Dennett. Obviously she is being kidnapped for ransom – or so you would be led to believe at first. Each chapter shifts from the point of view of Gabe Hoffman the Chicago detective assigned to the case, Mia in her state of mind during the kidnapping, her mother Eve Dennett and the kidnapper Colin Thatcher.

This is a gripping passage:

As you shift between the different characters in the story you learn about the Dennett family as well as getting an unexpected look into the kidnapper’s life. Mia doesn’t fit in with the rich style and is the odd one out in her father’s affections. Her sister to Grace is a lawyer and has the same uppity attitude and lack of empathy the father displays. You’ll read how Mia was pressured to go to law school but she follows her own dreams and becomes an art teacher. She has a boyfriend, Jason, but he doesn’t play a big role in this book. He’s actually somewhat of a dick and she is better off without this guy! It seems like the book leaps all over in telling the story of Mia’s kidnapping and ultimate rescue, however the multiple perspectives make for a great story.

Mary Kubica is quite a story teller and I hope to read more by this author.

Next on my list is Caedmon's Song by Peter Robinson, The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson and Be Safe, Love Mom by Elaine Brye.

All look good so it will depend on my mood. Hooking up to The Captive Reader for Library Loot.


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