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.


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.


God bless,

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,

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Frugal Kitchen: Chiles Rellenos

This is a fast dinner to prepare using simple ingredients from the regular grocery store.  I usually buy fresh poblano peppers (or another mild mexican pepper) for the adults and use a bell pepper for my daughter.


1 or 2 peppers per person
1 pkg. quesadilla cheese
1 small can salsa
1 or 2 eggs beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp. salt
1 or 2 Tbsp. cooking oil


Remove seeds and stems from peppers.  On the longer peppers I make a slit on one side or on the bell peppers on the top.  Stuff peppers with several slices of cheese.

Mix together the flour, cornmeal and salt.  Roll the peppers in beaten eggs, then in the flour mixture.  Add oil to a caste iron or oven safe pan and heat on stove to medium. Lightly brown the peppers on all sides.

Pour the remaining egg into the pepper cavities.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, then bake the peppers for 30 minutes.  You may need to turn them once during the baking process.  They should be soft and nicely browned when done.

Serve with salsa and yellow rice.

I hope you enjoy this easy Mexican meal.

God bless,

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Good Reads: Embellished To Death

Embellished to Death (Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery, #3)Embellished to Death by Christina Freeburn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Embellished To Death is the third book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This mystery series. It is a well written and decently edited novel.

Faith volunteers to represent her grandmothers' scrap booking store as a vendor at a scrap booking conference. She is accompanied by her boyfriend and soon they witness a murder and become embroiled in a homicide investigation. This is a complicated and fast paced plot that kept me interested throughout the entire book.

Even though I had read the first two books in the story I found myself confused when faced with so many characters in the first chapters of this book. A bit more recapping of the characters and their history would have made Embellished to Death more of a standalone novel. As it is you would have to have read the entire series to fully understand the nuances in this book.

I enjoyed reading Embellished to Death and look forward to the next book in this series.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Good Reads: The Moment of Everything

The Moment of EverythingThe Moment of Everything by Shelly King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

About halfway through reading the first chapter of The Moment of Everything I thought that this wasn't going to be the right kind of book for me. Then I found myself reaching the end of the book, late at night, with no idea of where the time had gone. It's hard to categorize this novel; it's not purely a romance. I guess I would call it a book about people that love books and about self realization.

The heroine, Maggie, has been laid off from her high tech job at a company that she helped to start. She spends her days at a used book store owned by her landlord. She finds a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover that is filled with hand written notes from two lovers. The book and it notes lead her on a path of self discovery; at times wonderful and often painful.

If you can get past it's slow start, I think any lover of books and romance will enjoy The Moment of Everything.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Good Reads: Personal

Personal (Jack Reacher, #19)Personal by Lee Child
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the first Jack Reacher book I have ever read and despite it being the 19th book in the series I was able to enjoy it as a standalone. Personal is an extremely well written and professionally edited suspense novel.

Strong, well developed characters and a fast paced, well organized plot made reading Personal a joy. While Reacher sees plenty of action in this book; he also acts as a mentor to a less experience government agent. It was nice to see the female character treated as a professional, not a sex object.

Now I have the task of reading the other books in the Jack Reacher series, and if they are anywhere near as good as Personal, it will be a pleasure.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Some violence, but no sex acts.