Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Frugal Gadgets: OXO Scrubber

I'm not usually a gadget lover, especially in the kitchen.  I prefer my tools to be multifunctional, but every once in a while I find a one use tool that make my life easier.

Cooking with cast iron pots and pans sometimes leaves me with a difficult clean up.  Just recently I read about a great scrubber by OXO that seems to be made for cleaning cast iron.  It's gentle enough to not ruin your pan's seasoned surface, but tough enough to scrub off stubborn cooked on food.

OXO is one of my favorite brands for kitchen tools because I have arthritis and this brand was originally developed for people with weak hands and problems gripping tools.




The bristles and scraper are plastic (nylon), but short and rigid.  Perfect for those difficult scrubbing jobs.  The handle is nice and thick to make it easy to grasp.  Not expensive either; I will put a link below, so you can see the price.

God bless,
Pam



Good Reads: No Test For The Wicked

No Test for the Wicked (Lexi Carmichael Mystery, #5)No Test for the Wicked by Julie Moffett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No Test For The Wicked is the fifth book in the Lexi Carmichael mystery/romance series. It is extremely well written and professionally edited.

High school wasn't good for Lexi, cyber investigator, the first time around and when she has to pose as a high school student to investigate hackers at a prestigious private school the second time isn't much better. Especially when the terrorists show up.

I love Lexi's character and watching my favorite nerd girl growing as a person. In fact, the funniest and loveliest moments in this book are when she is feeling her way through her interactions with others. I was a little disappointed at the lack of appearance of some of the secondary characters. The break with Finn has been glossed over in the last two books, which really doesn't fit in with his Lexi obsessed and strong willed character in earlier books.

The plot was suspense filled and fast paced. It was a believable scenario and I love how it paralleled current events. The ending was poignant, but filled with hope, so I guess I would qualify it as a HFN.

I am a major Lexi Carmichael fan girl and I highly recommend this book and series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.


Good Reads: Death By Blue Water

Death by Blue Water. A Hayden Kent MysteryDeath by Blue Water. A Hayden Kent Mystery by Kait Carson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Death By Blue Water is the first novel in the Hayden Kent Mystery series. It is a well written and professionally edited mystery novel.

Hayden, a paralegal and frequent diver, wakes up one morning after nursing a migraine, soaking wet, in her bathing suit, at a marina and not remembering anything from the night before. Soon she finds herself the main suspect in a murder. Since law enforcement doesn't believe her story she sets off to investigate the murder and clear herself.

The plot was original and interesting and the character development was good, but what I liked best about Death By Blue Water was the author's ability to make each scene come alive. I could easily visualize the diving scenes, almost feeling as though I was there.

The only problem I had was that Hayden came off as being a bit unstable and, sometimes, not that bright. It was hard for me to view her as a competent amateur detective.

I recommend Death By Blue Water, especially if you like heroines that are amateur investigators. The book ends with a HFN.

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Goulash

This is a midwestern favorite; so easy and economical.

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. ground meat, I prefer beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 onion, diced
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, finely diced
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup water
1 cup macaroni
1Tbsp. olive oil


Brown the ground beef in a heavy pot, use oil if your beef is lean.  Add diced onion and garlic; cook until transparent. At this point you can move ingredients to a crock pot/slow cooker.



  Stir in canned tomatoes, sauce, seasonings and water.  Cook covered on low for 1/2 hour, then add macaroni and cook covered for 20 minutes.  If using a crock pot cook on low all day, then add macaroni and cook until done.



This is a great cold weather, comfort food.  The recipe feed four regular eaters or three big eaters.  It doubles and triples well.  Enjoy!

God bless,
Pam

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Good Reads: The Job

The Job (Fox and O'Hare, #3)The Job by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Job is the third book in the Fox and O'Hare series written by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg. Both of them are experienced writers and their skill shines in this relatively new series.

Nick Fox, the Hero, is a legendary thief and con man that escaped capture until he met FBI agent Kate O'Hare. Due to a secret agreement with the government they are now partners in investigating and arresting the baddest of the bad. In this book they take on a drug cartel leader and his psychotic body guard. The action is fast and the plot complicated and fascinating.

Both of the main characters are well developed and easy to like and identify with. There is a host of great secondary characters, but Kate's dad, an ex Navy intelligence officer, is my favorite. I laughed like crazy as he described the intelligence skills and self defense he is teaching to his grandchildren.

I am thoroughly enjoying this series and, while The Job could be read as a standalone, I think it is best to read the entire series in order. It ends with a satisfying HFN.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Good Read: Fatal Brushstroke

Fatal Brushstroke (Aurora Anderson Mystery #1)Fatal Brushstroke by Sybil Johnson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fatal Brushstroke is the first book in the Aurora Anderson mystery series. It is adequately written and professionally edited.

The plot is interesting and fast paced, but a bit disorganized. Information and events in the story were presented in a way that made me feel as though I had missed their introduction. I went back to reread a few sections hoping to find some reason for a new event thinking that I had overlooked something.

The characters were varied and most were very appealing. The main character, Rory, had an interesting backstory which I would have loved to have read more about. In the first half of the book I had a problem empathizing with Rory and her problems because she continually lied to the police and her behavior was so erratic. I finally warmed up to her towards the end of the story.

Overall, Fatal Brushstroke was an easy, fun read. It can be read as a standalone, but I look forward to reading more of this series.

ARC provided by Henery Press via Netgalley.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Good Reads: The Bullet Catch

The Bullet Catch (An Eli Marks Mystery #2)The Bullet Catch by John Gaspard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Bullet Catch is the second book in the Eli Marks Mystery series. It is well written and professionally edited.

Eli has been cast adrift, with his girlfriend asking for a "break" , his fear of heights growing and dealing with his ex wife and her new, homicide detective husband. He is asked to work on a film about a magician killed while performing the Bullet Catch, a particularly dangerous magic trick. Soon he finds himself embroiled in a homicide investigation or rather several homicides, as people around him keep being murdered.

The plot is interesting and filled with a variety of secondary characters. But I think my real love in this series is the main character, Eli. He is a sort of Everyman, just a nice man trying to live his life well. It is easy to identify with him and cheer him on while he deals with life's verities.

I highly recommend The Bullet Catch. It can be read as a standalone, but it is more fun to read the series. It ends with a satisfying HFN.