Monday, October 13, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen - Moroccan Chicken

At least once a week I try to expand my horizons and cook an ethnic dish.  You can't really understand a country until you understand it's food.  Last week I made a trip back to my youth by making a Moroccan chicken dish.  I lived in Morocco for a year when I was very young and I don't remember much about it, except the stories my mom told about when we were there.

INGREDIENTS

2 lemons, one cut into 8 wedges and one squeezed to produce 2 Tbsp. juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, halved and sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. cinnamon, ground
1 tsp. dried ground ginger or 1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cups chicken stock
chicken thighs and legs, enough to feed your family, skinless
1/2 cup green olives, pitted
salt and pepper to taste


INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add onion, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook until lightly browned; add garlic and spices.  Stir quickly, then add stock.  When it begins to boil add lightly salted and peppered chicken to skillet.  Add lemon wedges, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, turn the chicken once or twice during cooking time.


Add olives and lemon juice, then cook uncovered on high heat until sauce thickens (you may need to add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 Tbsp. cold water).  Taste and adjust salt and pepper.  Serve over rice or starch of your choice.


This dish can be cooked in the crockpot after browning the onions.  It is an easy, flavorful dish.  I think of it as Moroccan comfort food.

God bless,
Pam

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Good Reads: Finding Sky

Finding Sky (Nicki Valentine Mysteries, #1)Finding Sky by Susan O'Brien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finding Sky is the first book in the Nicki Valentine Mystery series. It is a decently written and professionally edited novel.

Nicki is a widow, stay at home mother of two young children, has a degree in forensic psychology and is attending school to become a private investigator. Her dearest friend has been chosen to adopt a child by the unborn child's birth mother, but the teenaged pregnant girl has disappeared. Nicki agrees to find the girl, which puts her in the sights of a violent gang. While this plot definitely needs the reader to suspend their disbelief; it is original and fast paced.

Unfortunately, I found it difficult to connect with Nicki. Her thoughts seemed to bounce from subject to subject as though they were on speed. It was confusing and irritating. Top it off with her food snobbery and her obsession with sunscreen, which she shared with the reader repeatedly, and I was tired of her. I would have enjoyed reading more about her past and more thorough character development to help me identify with her.

I think that Finding Sky is a fast, easy and light read that most readers would enjoy. There is a small amount of romance entertained with the mystery. It ends with a satisfying HFN.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Reads: Dang Near Dead

Dang Near Dead (Aggie Mundeen Mystery, #2)Dang Near Dead by Nancy G. West
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Dang Near Dead is the second book in the Aggie Mundeen Mysery series. It is a decently written and professionally edited murder mystery.

I was put off by the first half of this book. A large number of characters are thrown at the reader, references are made to the first book without any explanation, and the plot seems erratic and disorganized. The heroine, Aggie, comes off as irrational and, frankly, not very bright.

Somewhere between 50% and 70% the story finally became more appealing and the reader is finally able to keep up with the plot.

Due to the lack of recapping the first book I would say that Dang Near Dead is not a standalone novel. It must be read after the first book to understand the characters and plot. It ends with a HFN with a tiny bit of cliffhanger at the end.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


The Frugal Kitchen: Sauerkraut and Sausage

Some people love sauerkraut and some people hate it.  There doesn't seem to be much of a middle road when it comes to sauerkraut.  I personally love it, but I have always been fond of sour tastes.  Here is my sauerkraut recipe that seems to appeal to most people.

INGREDIENTS

1 jar mild flavored sauerkraut
1 package of sausage such as kielbasa, cut in bit sized pieces
1 large apple or 2 smaller apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 or 2 slices bacon
1 onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 or 2 Tbsps. of brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dried fennel seeds

My favorite kraut
Fully cook bacon in pan, put aside and keep about 1 Tbsp. of dripping in pan.


 Thinly slice onion and brown in drippings.



 Pour in drained sauerkraut, sausage, apple, and crumbled bacon.  Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar and fennel.


Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Simmer for about two hours.

Universal lids fit many sizes of pans
I forgot to take a photo of the finished dish, but the apples will have broken down and all the flavors melded.  Taste kraut; if it is too sour try adding another tablespoon of brown sugar.  This dish can be easily put together and cooked in a crockpot.

If you can't find the mild new kraut, rinse your kraut with water, then press out all the liquid with your hands.  This should remove some of the sourness.

Enjoy!

God bless,
Pam

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Good Reads: Asian Pickles

Asian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and BeyondAsian Pickles: Sweet, Sour, Salty, Cured, and Fermented Preserves from Korea, Japan, China, India, and Beyond by Karen Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How lovely to find an author celebrating something I absolutely love, Asian pickles. I frequently cook East Asian and Indian dishes and now, after reading Asian Pickles, I will be making the pickles to accompany those dishes.

Asian Pickles is a well written and well edited cookbook. It is written in a lively way that encouraged me to read it from beginning to end. The recipes are clearly written and use fairly easy to obtain ingredients. If you don't have an Asian market nearby the author provides online sources for ingredients.

I am looking forward to reading and using the other books written by Karen Solomon. I highly recommend Asian Pickles.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Good Reads: The Secret Place

The Secret Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #5)The Secret Place by Tana French
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The fifth book in the Dublin Murder Squad series, The Secret Place is a beautifully written and professionally edited murder mystery novel. Even though it is part of a series it reads as a standalone.

Two rather mismatched detectives find themselves investigating a cold murder case together. Taking place at an Irish Catholic boarding school filled with rather frightening teenage girl suspects, this novel had me captivated and kept me guessing from beginning to end.

This isn't a comfortable book to read, especially if you have a teenage daughter. The sometimes viciousness of children, teenage peer pressure, the strength of young friendships and the frailty of the same friendships is disturbing.

I loved The Secret Place and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Frugal Internet Finds: Craftsy

I love my craft hobbies, but crafting can become very expensive.  It's easy to overwhelm your budget when you are purchasing patterns, supplies and those clever doodads that manufacturers convince us we need.

Right before Christmas I was on the internet looking for free or inexpensive patterns that I could use to make holiday gifts.  I stumbled upon a great site where you can buy patterns and workshops from other crafters.  Craftsy has many free patterns to download and is also a site where crafters can sell their original patterns online.  As you can see the name Craftsy is a play on the famous Etsy name.


You do need to create a login name and password to use the site, but it asks for precious little personal information since it is all downloads.  In the rare times I buy a pattern I use Paypal.

I'd love to hear about your favorite crafting sites.

God bless,
Pam