Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Frugal Kitchen: Mushroom Burger

This is such an easy recipe that I am almost ashamed to talk about it, but it is something that my vegetarian husband enjoys while my daughter and I eat beef burgers.

Take one large portobello mushroom and coat it with olive oil, then McCormick Montreal Steak seasoning.  Brown both sides in an oven safe fry pan, then place in a 350 Fahrenheit oven for 10 minutes.

Place on a bun and add the condiments of your choice.



Enjoy and God bless,
Pam

Good Reads: The Murderer's Daughter

The Murderer's DaughterThe Murderer's Daughter by Jonathan Kellerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Murderer's Daughter is an extremely well written and professionally edited murder mystery/suspense novel.

Grace grew up in the foster system after witnessing the gruesome murder/suicide of her dysfunctional parents. Thanks to a supportive foster couple she ends up with an excellent education and a career as a psychologist treating patients that have experienced or witnessed trauma. Her very controlled life is thrown out of order when a prospective patient is murdered and the murderer is now intent on eliminating her.

This was a fast paced book with interesting, well developed characters. The chapters alternate between Grace's childhood experiences and her current dilemma.

Grace is the type of character that I thoroughly enjoy. She is realistic, strong and determined. While she has some quirks, understandable with her background, they only make her more interesting.

Warning: this book does include sexual content and violence.

I highly recommend The Murderer's Daughter. I'm not sure if it will be part of a series, but it reads as a standalone with a HFN ending.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Good Reads: A Muddied Murder

A Muddied Murder (A Greenhouse Mystery #1)A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Muddied Murder is the first book in the A Greenhouse Mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited full length novel.

Megan, a former attorney, has returned to her small hometown to take over her father's failed organic farm and to live with her grandmother. She is frustrated in her attempts to get her farm store and cafe opened by an overzealous city inspector and the local historical society. When said inspector is found murdered in her barn Megan is the prime suspect.

First novels in a series are always tricky because the author has to introduce new characters and locations to the reader and still tell the story. It is done nicely in A Muddied Murder; I enjoyed the mystery without getting bogged down in the details.

Megan is my kind of female main character; she's a competent adult, intelligent and kind. The other characters were interesting and well developed.

The mystery is not overly complicated nor too simple. Just right.

I recommend this novel and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Good Reads: Compelled

Compelled (Vampires in America, #10.5)Compelled by D.B. Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compelled is book 10.5 in the Vampires in America paranormal romance series. It is an very well written and professionally edited novella.

Cyn and Raphael owe Nick, a sorcerer and Cyn's ex lover, a favor for assisting Cyn when she freed Raphael from his captors in a previous book. Nick needs their assistance to steal the magical handcuffs that were used to restrain Raphael.

This is a short, but fun romp with Cyn and Raphael's relationship at the forefront and the intense competition and hate between Raphael and Nick.

Compelled is a must read for any reader following this series as it sets up future books that contain the sorcerers.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Frugal Kitchen: Beef Stew

Beef stew is so wonderful on a cold day.  Stew meat is affordable and with root vegetables in season beef stew becomes a frugal and delicious one pot meal.

I like to keep my stew vegetables as natural looking as possible.  I want the carrots, turnips and potatoes easily identifiable.  It makes the stew visually attractive and rustic.

INGREDIENTS

Beef cut into one inch cubes (or larger if you prefer)
Beef stock
Carrots
Turnips
Small potatoes
Green beans
Small white onions
Several garlic cloves
Flour
Salt
Whole black pepper corns, 5 or 6
Red wine
1 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Rosemary
2 Bay leaves

Place some flour and a teaspoon of salt in a ziplock bag with the stew meat.  Shake to cover the meat with flour.  Add several tablespoons of oil to a hot pot and brown the meat on all sides.



While the meet is browning prepare the vegetables by washing them and peel them only if absolutely necessary.  Do take the paper like skins off of the onions and garlic cloves.


When the meat is browned add the onions and garlic cloves and let them get some color.


Add the other vegetables and the spices.  Add broth and red wine (no more than a cup of wine) to cover the meat and vegetables.  Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and lower the heat to simmer.


Cook for three hours, then add salt to taste.

Serve with a crusty bread.  We were so hungry after smelling this stew cooking all afternoon, we ate it without taking a picture of the finished stew.  Oh well, next time.

God bless,
Pam

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Eeek! Clothing Moths (and my desperate attempts to eradicate them)

I have to admit that I haven't been as observant lately as I should have, but when a number of moths started flying about our house, I went on full alert.  Because, even though I live in Florida, I am a wool junkie.  I love working with wool and wool yarns and always have several projects in different stages of completion.

Of course, when I pulled out my yarns and semi finished projects they had obvious moth damage.  Some things were salvageable, but (because moths love dark, undisturbed places) the yarn and wool at the bottoms of my project bags were destroyed.

The first thing I noticed were the clothing moth cocoons.  On yarn that only had cocoons, but no damage, I vacuumed the yarn balls inside and out with my vacuum attachment.


Then I placed any salvageable wool into 2 1/2 gallon zip lock bags and placed them in my freezer for, at least, 72 hours.


After I removed the bags from the freezer I open the bags while they came to room temperature, to prevent condensation.  Make sure that there is no moisture in the bags before you reseal them.

From now on I will be storing my wool in plastic even though I know that this is not the optimal method of storage.  I will also be more diligent about checking through my supplies on a regular basis.

I managed to salvage about 50% of my wool.  I knew better than to take my wool storage for granted, but sometimes life distracts us and we end up paying for it.

 I decided many years ago that I didn't want to own anything that, if it became damaged or ruined, would be heart breaking for me.  We live in hurricane territory and I don't want to worry about things when all my concentration should be on my family.  So the loss of a few projects is disappointing, but not devastating.

God bless,
Pam

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Frugal Kitchen: Beans and Greens

Beans and greens usually refers to white or pinto beans cooked with leafy greens such a collards.  I like to substitute green beans for the collards when fresh collard greens aren't available.

This is a simple dish that is made easier by using canned or frozen beans and greens.  If you are using dried beans soak them in water overnight and be sure to cook them for around seven hours.  I suggest using a slow cooker if you are not going to be home to keep an eye on the pot.

INGREDIENTS

2 cans beans (I used navy and kidney beans)
1 can green beans or a package of frozen greens
1 piece of smoked hog jowl or ham hock
1/2 tsp. of thyme
water or leftover stock
salt to taste
pepper to taste

To a heavy pot add beans after draining them, add drained green beans, smoked meat, and thyme.  Mix well and make sure the meat is tucked down into the beans.  Add liquid to just cover the beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Cook for several hours.  A half hour before serving taste the broth for salt (I didn't need to add any), and add pepper to taste.  Shred the meat and discard the bones.

Never add salt to a pot of beans until they are completely cooked and soft.  Salt will prevent the beans from absorbing liquid and you don't want to serve tough, hard beans.

Serve the beans over biscuits, cornbread (my favorite) or rice.


This is a simple, inexpensive and balanced meal.  Enjoy!

God bless,
Pam