Thursday, 24 February 2011

Recipe Thursday - Peanut-Fudge Pudding Cake (microwave cooking)

I have noticed over time, that very few people actually use their microwaves for cooking.  Mostly its  forreheating, in particular, frozen vegetables or an old cup of coffee or tea.   When I got married, my father-in-law and his wife gave us a microwave and a cookbook.  Betty Crocker's Microwave Cookbook saw a lot of use in our house.  Having more time to spend in the kitchen means I don't have as much of a rush to get dinner ready.  There are still several dishes that I rather enjoy making from this book.   Today it's a variation of a favourite dessert. 

Pudding cake is still magic for me.  When I was little, my mother used to buy packaged mix to make this.  I loved the lemon flavour.  It was a small box with two packets inside.  One the cake mix and the other for the sauce.  This is made in exactly the same method. Mix the cake in the bowl, sprinkle the sugary stuff over top and then carefully pour the really hot water over top.  Then cook.  Today we're doing it without the box mix.

Peanut-Fudge Pudding Cake

1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 3/4 cup hot water

Mix flour, sugar, 2 tbsp cocoa, baking powder and salt in a 2 quart casserole.  (note: a 1.8 L container isn't big enough).  Stir in milk, peanut butter, oil and vanilla until smooth.

Mix together brown sugar and  1/4 cup cocoa.  Sprinkle mixture over top of cake batter. 

Pour hot water over batter.  Microwave uncovered on medium (50%) for 9 minutes; rotate casserole 1/4 turn.  Microwave on high (100%) until top is almost dry, 5 to 7 minutes longer.  While warm spoon into dessert dishes and top with ice cream.  Spoon sauce over ice cream.

Butterscotch Sundae Cake:
Omit peanut butter.  Add 1 package butterscotch chips (1 cup).  Decrease brown sugar to 1/2 cup and the 1/4 cup cocoa to 2 tablespoons.

Usually I make the version with the peanut butter, but daughter really likes butterscotch and seeing that we had the chips, thought I would surprise her.  I am assuming that I was supposed to mix the chips into the batter and not sprinkle them along with the sugar mixture.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish ReadsThis week's link.  You are invited to visit and checkout the various food related posts, and if you wish, add your own current link.

Teacher of the Year

I just want to brag here a little bit.  My cousin Bryce Honsinger  has been named Teacher of the Year in Ontario.  I found the same video on YouTube and have included it here.

During his school years, Bryce was lucky to have one of those teachers who really understood his students.  He would come to class dressed as an historic figure.  Obviously this had a huge impression on Bryce.   After watching this video, doesn't it make you wish that your children were in his class.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Heels turned and gusset Finished

I have turned the corner so to speak.  The gusset is finished and now I am back to my original 60 stitches.  Now I knit in the established pattern on the top of the sock and stocking knit stitch on the sole for a few inches.  Next week I hope I'll be at the toes.

I didn't get much stitching time as I spent it all reading.  I am in a challenge that ends in April and the prize is an ebook reader.  I really want to win, so I have to keep reading. 

Marie did wonderfully.  She has finished her yoga socks.  They are really comfy looking.  Be sure to click and visit Daisy's Book Journal for her Needlework Tuesday update.  She is also looking for suggestions on how to finish her quilted wrap.

Over at Send a Postcard a Week I have featured two very different fabric cards made by some online friends of my mother.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

my daughter has been after me to read this for quite some time.  She raved about this series for the longest time.  I figured it was about time I got with the game.

The date of the selection for the annual Hunger Games is approaching, and sixteen year old Katniss is concerned that this will be her year for selection.  How will her mother and sister survive without her when she dies; only one combatant in the game will survive.

I was quite impressed with the depth of the main characters Katniss, Gale, Peeta and even Rue.  They were so real that I could almost imagine what they were thinking and doing when the story wasn't centred on them.  We learn little bits of information about the other eleven districts, but it is enough to leave me wanting more.  I am left wondering whether the clues that Katniss and Peeta have learned are far more than Capitol wants them to know.  Will Capitol seek to silence them.

The nation of Panem is split into twelve districts which each have a resource that is needed by Capitol.  They are isolated from each other, both by geography, but also systematically by Capitol, which controls all the transportation outside of each district.  This leads me to think that Capitol is no longer as strong as it was at the end of the war.  They use the terror of the Hunger Games and near starvation as a very effective means of controlling the populace.

I'm looking forward to reading Catching Fire and learning how Katniss and Peeta deal with life as victors once they return to District 12. 

Suzanne Collins website
 Scholastic website for The Hunger Games

Review by Shannon (daughter) at Illusion-esk

This is my 27th book for the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Challenge hosted by Rachelle at  Two new contests to win books have been added, check them out.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

 Eleven year olds shouldn't have a care in the world.  They should be free to play and dream.  Life never was like that for Pecola Breedlove.  She learned that it wasn't fair; that it was even less fair the darker your skin was, the darker your eyes were and the uglier your were perceived to be.  According to those around her, Pecola has all those things going for her.  She did have a glimmer of hope, a very unreasonable one.  She knew that the girls with blue eyes had the best of lives, heck, even the baby dolls had blue eyes and everyone loved them.  Pecola just knew that if she had blue eyes it would make all the difference in her life.

This was a difficult story to read.  Each of the characters started life with a reasonable shot at happiness.  But the smallest change in circumstances can have a huge impact that seem to magnify over time.   I wouldn't have thought that by injuring her foot, Pecola's mother's life would take such turns that would lead to a husband who would be the one to lead to Pecola's final break.

I can't say 'good book' nor 'bad book'; it's one of those books you need to read and decide for yourself.  In 2000, Oprah selected this for her book club.

Also reviewed by Amy at Amy Reads.

This is my 26th book for the Read, Remember, Recommend fiction Challenge hosted by Rachelle at  Visit to enter to win a copy of either Parrot & Oliver in American by Peter Carey for adult readers  or Matched by Ally Condie for teen readers.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Recipe Thursday - Cranberry Nut Dessert

This is one of my favourite desserts to make.  It is extremely easy, turns out perfect every time and adults love it.  I don't think kids find it sweet enough, which is great when you don't really want to share.

It is from a long ago issue of Taste of Home and was submitted by Peggy Van Arsdale.

As shown in the first photo, this is a really stiff mix if you use frozen cranberries.  It will be tough to mix in the dry stuff, but keep working at it and it will blend in.
I use the back of a large spoon but flatten it in the pan, but it's very sticky, perhaps some of that spray oil stuff on your hand would work better.

I made this for our Valentines Dessert night at my fencing club.  It was a huge hit with the parents and I had to sneak a bit home for hubby to enjoy.
Cranberry Nut Dessert

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup butter melted, you can use margarine, but I haven't tried that
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.  Add cranberries and nuts; toss to coat.

 Stir in the butter, eggs and extract (mixture will be very thick if using frozen berries). 

Spread into a greased 9 inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted near the centre comes out clean. 

Serve warm with whipped dream or ice cream if desired.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  You are invited to join in the fun by linking your food related post.  It could be a recipe, cookbook review, foodie themed book, a movie or any other food related post. 

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Needlework Tuesday - Turning the Corner (I really mean heel) on Socks

I have continued to work on my socks, though haven't had as much time this week.  I did get the heels turned.  Using the two at a time method doesn't work here. Due to the short rows, you have to turn one heel and then go to the next sock and turn that heel.   Not the best of pictures, but I can't go back and take another as I've continued to knit.
 In this photo I have picked up 13 stitches along the right side of the heel (as shown in the photo) on both socks.
Finally, I have all the stitches picked up for the gusset.  Thats the triangular area a the side of the heel.  I have knit a few more rows.  I decrease one stitch at each side of the guesset until I am back to my original number of stitches.  The pattern continues as established on the top of the sock.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal is continuing with her socks.  She won't have a post this week, but will keep you insuspense till next week.

Did you check out the fabric postcards on my other blog, Send a Postcard a Week, last week.  I have added a few more.  First a scrappy, inch one that I have sent to my sister.  I also posted pics of some Valentines fabric cards made by myself and my mother.  Hope you enjoy them.  This week I will be making at least one fabric postcard and will be featuring step by step photos.  I'll post a link next week, or better yet, elect to follow my post card blog.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Room by Emma Donoghue

Read this book.  Just drop everything else and read this book.

I wanted to end my review at the end of my second sentence, but decided that you might want to hear the why behind my statements.

This story is of Jack and his ma.  Jack is five and they live in Room.  Not a room, but Room.  Jack believes that it is the only room, there are no others.  He has seen tv, but everything there is not real, it's on a different planet.  He has never been outside Room; there is nothing outside.  He is too young to understand that his mother was abducted and raped and that he is the result.  She has chosen to raise him in ignorance of outside so that he will be content with his life.

I was captivated by this story.  It's not that it was exciting or glamorous or even brutal.  I had to know more about this little boy and how he could behave so normally under such bizarre circumstances.  I read in awe of this compact world that author Emma Donoghue had so convincing created.  There have been several instances where women have been held captive similar to this and I imagine that they must have constructed similar rules for their tiny worlds.

I can't say I loved this book, as it's not the type of story that inspires love.  Rather it is a compelling one that I found hard to put down.  It will stick with me for a long time.

Trailer for Room, thanks to HarperCollins.

Read what Petty Witter at Pen and Paper thought about Room.
Also reviewed at My Novel Reviews

This is my eleventh read for the 4th Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.
This is book 25 for the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Challenge being hosted by Rachelle at

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich (audio book)

Wicked AppetiteJanet Evanovich has done it again with a new and addictive series.  It has a wonderful set of characters.

Elizabeth (Lizzy) Tucker is a pastry chef with and innate ability, almost magical, to make the most amazing cupcakes.  She is head strong and a bit quirky, which makes her all the more endearing.

 Of course there has to be some hunky males.  First we meet Gerwulf Grimoire, tall, dark and very dangerously sexy.  His name alone gave me pause to decide whether it predicted him be 'bad'.  Next is Diesel, also tall and dark, though he reassures Lizzy that he's the 'good' one. 

To round out the cast we have Clarinda Dazzle (Clara) the owner of Dazzle's, the bakery where Lizzy works her cupcake magic.  There is something special about Clara, something that makes me think witch, and knowing that the story is set in Salem, Massachusetts, it makes me shiver a wee bit.  And finally we have Gloria Binkly (Glo) who works the counter in the bakery.  When she arrives for her shift at the start of the story she is waving around a magic book that she had felt compelled to go into a store and purchase.

I listened to the BBC Audiobooks America version.  6 hours 13 minutes.  Read by Lorelei King.  While it was well read by Ms. King, I felt that I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the book.  Then it would have been up to my imagination to find the perfect, sultry voices for both Wulf and Diesel. 

If you didn't catch the subtle references to magic, well, magic abounds in this book.  Diesel and Wulf are in a race with each other to retrieve seven mysterious stones of power.  They seem to be associated with the seven deadly sins, gluttony being the stone sought in this book.

I totally enjoyed listening to this book.  I wanted it to keep going on to the next stone.  Oh well, I do suppose that Janet needs writing time...

Janet Evanovich's website

Cover photo from St. Martin's Press (click this link to listen to an audio excerpt)

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Every year millions of people visit Niagara Falls. It continues to be one of the top tourist destinations.  If you've ever been there, you understand why.  To stand at the brink of the Falls watching more than six million cubic feet cascade over the edge every minute is mine boggling.  It is not a sight you will soon forget.

Author Cathy Buchanan has truly captured the majesty and excitement of the area in her novel The Day the Falls Stood Still.

The story is set in the time of World War 1 and the years afterward.  Young Bess Heath has one year of school at Loretto Academy left, when her mother removes her from the school.

Her father had been working for the hydro company and has recently lost his job.  Her sister's engagement has been broken.  The whole family is trying to find themselves again.  Into all this turmoil, add a young man that Bess has spied in the area.

I was transfixed by this book.  I suppose it had to do with having grown up only fifteen minutes away from the falls.  It was a common occurrence at my house to jump in the car to go and see the 'lights' at night, to go and see if the ice bridge had closed across the river below the fall. to visit for any reason. 
I have watched a fair number of shows about Niagara Falls as well as stories that have been set in the town, and this book ranks at the top with the best of them.  Most definitely this is the book to read if you want to get a true feeling of what the area must have been like prior to it becoming a huge tourist mecca.

The character of Tom Cole is loosely based on true life river man Red HillAdditional information about Red Hill and the events and rescues he was involved in.
The next two pictures show the whirlpool.  The cable car crosses from Canada across the whirlpool to the other side which is also Canada.  The next picture, the corner of land sticking out from the right is the United States.

Niagara Falls Geology Facts and Figures.  I had to include this final picture.  It was taken December 29, 2010.  I was standing just underneath the lights that are aimed to illuminate the Falls at night.    The first two pictures were taken the same evening.  The middle three pictures were taken August 7, 2001 during a birthday trip to the Falls.
You might also enjoy The Whirlpool by Jane Urquhart.

Additional Reviews of The Day the Falls Stood Still

This is my 24th book for the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Challenge being hosted by Visit with Bibilobabe and find links to reviews of loads of awarding winning novels.
This is my 10th books for the 4th Canadian Book Challenge being hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.  At the end of the 6th month of the challenge, John posted a wonderful summary of the hundreds of books read and links to the many helpful review.  All readers an invited to join the challenge to read 13 books by any Canadian author.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Recipe Thursday - Pineapple Coconut Cake

I always enjoy the opportunity to try out a new recipe, specially if it means I get to bake a cake.  Yesterday was hubby's birthday.  When asked what flavours he wanted; coconut, banana and mousse.  Well, that was an awkward combination.  In consultation with my son, we chose a pineapple and coconut recipe.  It is from a 2004 book, Baking: Simple to Sensational, from Company's Coming.  Click here to visit their site and view some sample images, table of contents and sample recipes.  I have made several recipes from this book and each turned out as expected.   Most unusual is one called "Blintz Torte".  It is a Swedish recipe.  First you mix up a  cake batter and divide it between the two pans, you top this with a meringue and then bake.  After it has cooled you fill with a custard layer.  I think I am going to have to bake this and show you step by step photos.  I have never had anything like it and was most surprised how easy it was to follow the steps and have it turn out. 

The Pineapple Coconut cake was so moist and wonderful.  We should have eaten it before dinner so we had more space.  I had made hubby's favourite birthday meal of mashed potatoes, corn, and chicken Kiev (frozen from the store as I don't deep fry).  I toasted the coconut in a frying pan instead of in the oven.  I stood right at the stove the whole time to ensure that I didn't over cook it.  It really enhanced the flavour to do the toasting.  Do not skip this step.
Pineapple Coconut Cake

1/2 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
14 oz can of crushed pineapple with juice
1/3 cup milk
2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup medium sweetened coconut

Pineapple Icing
3 tbsp butter softened
1/3 cup pineapple juice
4 cups icing sugar

1/2 cup medium sweetened coconut toasted

Beat butter, sugar and lemon zest in a large bowl until light and creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add pineapple with juice and milk.  Beat until just combined.  Mixture may look curdled, but will come together when flour is added.

Combine flour and baking powder in small bowl.  Add to pineapple mixture.   Add coconut.  Stir well.  Grease and flour bottom of 2 eight inch pans.  Divide and pour batter into pans.  Bake in 325 F oven for about 45 minutes until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Let stand in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes.  Run knife around inside edges of pans to loosen cakes.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Pineapple icing: Beat butter and pineapple juice in medium bowl until smooth.  Add icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time while beating, until spreading consistency.  Makes 1  1/3 cup icing.  Place 1 cake layer on serving plate.  Spread top with 1/2 cup of icing.  Place second cake layer on top of icing.  Spread remaining icing on top and side of cake.  Sprinkle coconut over top of cake. 

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  You are invited to add your food related post and to enjoy visiting the various links for recipes, cookbook reviews along with book and movie reviews.  As long as it's food related, it belongs in Weekend Cooking.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (audio book)

If you had told me at the start of this book that I was going to read a story about a man living in a life boat for almost a year with a full grown Bengal Tiger, and that I was going to believe every word of it, I would have thought you were crazy.  By the middle of the book, I found that I was so drawn into Pi's life, that I totally believed every word.  That this had truly happened and that Pi had in fact lived with this huge, ferocious tiger.  Even now, a few weeks later I am still convinced that this could have happened.

I am not the only reader to fall under Mr. Martel's spell.  Readers all over the world have been searching the internet for the location of the Pondicherry Zoo, and some in India and saying it would be a good move to start such a zoo.

I didn't think I would be so captivated by a story about a man and tiger, but the descriptions of taming the tiger held me motionless.  I listened to this as an audio book.  At times I would arrive at my destination and sit in my car listening for a few more minutes rather than turn off the oratation.  I was late for more than a few events as a result.

I particularly enjoyed the section of the book when young Pi was visiting three different religious leaders and learning about Hindu, Christian and Muslim beliefs.  I applaud Mr. Martel for his wonderful handling of this topic.  He presented each relgion in a such a caring way that I could clearly see why Pi was attacted to each.   A little more of this appoach in the real world could have profound positive impacts.

I listened to the unabridged audio version by HighBridge Company.  It was read by Jeff Woodman and  Alexander Marshall.  Length: 11 hours and 35 minutes. 

Yann Martel's recent project has drawn to a close just this week.  Every other week for the past four years he has been sending a book to Stephen Harper, the Canadian Prime Minister, along with a letter explaining why he chose that particular book.  Now after 100 books, Mr. Martel feels it is time to move on.  There is a website for this project.  He also published a book last year which includes the letters he had been sending to the Prime Minister.  Unfortunately the Prime Minister did not once contact Mr. Martel about all these thoughtful gifts.

 New Face of Fiction 1996 - Random House

This is my 9th read for the Canadian Book Challenge hosted by John at The Book Mine Set .
This is my 23rd read for the Read, Remember, Recommend Fiction Challenge hosted by

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Needlework Tuesday -Let's Knit Socks Two at a Time

I knit a pair of socks a few years ago and the first sock was done in short order and then I started the second.  It dragged on and on. I thought I would never get it finished and wondered if they would be the same size and length.  A book friend suggested that I try knitting them at the same time.  I found this book at a knitting show and bought it and studied it for about two years.  This week I took the plunge and cast on my stitches.
In last week's post I showed you the yarn I was using and added a link to the pattern.  Here's what it looks like with all the stitches cast on for both socks.  It really would help if my needles didn't look so much the same.  If you can get different coloured needles or wires, then that will help a lot.
With a couple of mix ups, I did manage to get the ribbing completed.  The pattern called for one repeat of the pattern before starting the heel.  I did two repeats as I didn't want to wait till the heel was done to see what the pattern would look like.  Not sure I really can tell yet.  This will make the sock only the slightest bit higher.  I am using 3mm needles so it takes a lot of rows to knit one inch.

Marie at Daisy's Book Journal has also started her socks.  I'll update the link when she puts up her post. Marie has her post up now.  She has a pic of her finished shrug and the start of her socks.   We are encouraging each other with our sock knitting.  yippee.  Great to have someone to work with.

Michelle at Brain Angles - Invisible Ink has posted a picture of the cherry blossoms that she crocheted.

I'll be back next week with my sock progress.  For now I need to get to my sewing machine and finish a gift for hubby for his birthday tomorrow.

I have started a new feature article on my other blog, Send a Postcard a Week.  Each Sunday I am going to feature fabric postcards.  My mother belongs to an online group that trades these cards every month.  She has quite the collection and she has allowed me to take photos of some of them.  This past Sunday I featured some 'white' cards as a sort of snub to all that stuff falling outside.  Click on here and check them out.

Radiance by Alyson Noel

Kids aren't supposed to die before they get a chance to live their lives, to become teenagers.  It's just not fair.  All Riley Bloom wanted to do was become a teenager and be just like her older sister Ever.  Unfortunately she died at the age of twelve and now has to finish growing up in the 'Here and Now'. 

She doesn't like it one bit and her dorky guide, Bodhi, is given the challenge of helping her learn her new job as soul catcher as well attempting to integrate her into her new 'life'. 

I read this YA book through in almost one sitting.  I couldn't put it down.  Riley was just so sad in the first part of the book, that I felt that if I put the book down, I'd be leaving her all alone in her grief and I couldn't do that.  I felt that my reading her story would help guide her on her way.  (I guess that's the mother in me).

With Bodhi's help, Riley needs to learn to let go of her old life in order to embrace her new one.  Even as a young person, she has talents that can help others in even less unfortunate situations.  She learns a lot about herself in a very short time.  You might not get what you want, but that if you open yourself to new possibilities, you very well might end up with even more than you ever considered possible.

Author Alyson Noel has spun a captivating tale of loss and self realization.  She shows the reader that even a pre-teen can have strength and power that can be most helpful to others.  Radiance is the first book in a new series that is a spin off from her successful Immortals series.  The next book Shimmer is due out March 15,2011.

Visit Alyson Noel's website for details on her many other books.
Thanks to MacMillian for my review copy of Radiance.

For a chance to win this book, visit A little bit of Everything.  Contest closes April 10, 2011.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Study Train Volume 1: Reunion of the Untouchables by Kurt Frenier

This is the story of Ethan, a 16 year old Swiss boy.  He is unwanted by his parents and not accepted by his classmates nor by his community.  After school, he lives in a fantasy world where he is the supreme ruler and he can punish those who have harassed him.

One day he receives a most unusual invitation. He is invited to embark on an eight year train journey of travel, education, and discovery.

This YA novel explores the value of friendship along with the choice between good and evil.  This was an enjoyable read.  Sort of a cross between Harry Potter, Oliver Twist, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.  As an adult, I wanted more depth, more descriptive details of locations,I wanted more character building.  Not the things a teen reader necessarily wants. The concept of a train that travels the world with the goal of training future is leaders is brilliant.  I almost wish that it would stop outside my window.  Mr. Frenier moves this story along at a good pace keeping Ethan and his train mates dealing with a continuing stream of events.

At the end of the story we are left with unanswered questions.  Healing broken friendships, budding romance, and the epic battle between good and evil.  There is also an invitation from the author asking readers to write him with suggestions of how they would like to see the story progress.

Note: The author has targetted this book at 13-16 year olds.  There is drinking by characters in this book.

Kurt Frenier has a number of published works, though this is his first English novel.  Visit Mr. Frenier's website.
Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

The Magic of Books Can Set the World on Fire

I want to share with you a special package I received by courier on Friday.  I wasn't expecting anything, but I figured it would be a book.  Well, I guess you could say it is a book, but a very unique, one of  a kind book. 

A while back I won a contest sponsored by Linda on her blog Living, Quilting and Stuff.  I've know Linda for a quite some time since attending a quilt retreat ages ago.  As a prize, she offered to make a custom designed wall hanging for the winner.  Knowing that you can't rush the creative process, I left it up to Linda and knew that she would send something along to me.

First the label.  Linda folded the quilt such that the label was facing me when I pulled the bundle out of the packaging.  Books setting the world on fire.  That works for me.

I was getting quite excited after reading the label.  No delay, here is my wonderful quilt.

This is totally how I feel about books.  They can truly bring the world to life, or set it on fire according to Linda.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Free Ebooks February 4-6, 2011 from Sourcebooks

Hi everyone, I wanted to pass along a message that I received this afternoon.
The following three eBooks will be free from today until Sunday:

Lydia Bennet’s Story by Jane Odiwe

Her new release Mr. Darcy’s Secret just came out on February 1st

Love at First Flight by Marie Force

Her new release Everyone Loves a Hero just came out on February 1st

The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick

Her highly anticipated release, To Defy a King will be released March 1st

Visit Sourcebooks and download your favourite.

While you are there, be sure to sign up to learn first hand of future ebook offers direct from Sourcebooks.

Time's Legacy by Barbara Erskine

Reverend Abi Rutherford has just been hired as assistant curate of St. Hugh's parish in Cambridge.  She will be working closely with the Reverend Kieran Scott.  Within weeks of beginning her new position, Abi senses something unusual at the church.  She can hear singing and smell the burning of beeswax candles, even though the church is empty but for herself.  Unknown to Abi, Kieran can also sense these other timely parishioners and fears that they are an evil influence upon him.  He is hoping that Abi will be able to save him from them.  In his efforts to enlist her help, he makes a mess of everything and sends her running away, fearing for her own safety.

It didn't take many paragraphs for this story to wrap its arms around me and pull me right into it.  I had no choice but to keep reading.  I even sent my family away at one point and closed myself off in my room so that I could finish the book without further interruptions. 

Author Barbara Erskine has skillfully set this story in two time periods; 25 AD and modern times.  Because she has used to completely different sets  of characters, I found it quite easy to jump between times yet maintain the flow of the plot. 

I enjoyed the comparison of the Druid and Christian philosophies of healing and the power of prayer.  While the religions are very important to certain characters, this book wasn't about religion.  It is about truth.  The ancient character Mora wants to tell a story to those who follows and she uses the only medium open to her.  She hopes that one who follows will be able to decipher it and will know what to do with what is learned.

Book Trailer for Time's Legacy,  Thanks to HarperCollins.

I'd like to thank Petty Witter of the blog Pen and Paper for suggesting this author to me.  I'll definitely be checking out additional books by Barbara Erskine.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Recipe Thursday - Shredded Beef

Cold weather requires a more substantial meal.  A crisp green salad just doesn't cut it when the wind is whipping snow all over the place and the mercury has dipped significantly below the freezing mark.  Time to pull out the big guns.  In my family that means Shredded Beef.  This recipe has been a family favourite since I first tried it in 1996.  It is from Taste of Home August/September 1996.   I had a subscription for several years and tried many of the recipes. 
First picture shows the cooking sauce simmering.  You really must allow it to cook for the full fifteen minutes before pouring over the roast.  This lets the flavours mix really well.

Once you have poured the sauce over the beef, put it in the oven with a lid and leave it alone for a couple of hours.  You can do this in a crock pot, though the sauce will be a bit thin, so leave the lid off the crock pot while you are shredding the beef.  Note, I didn't have time to brown the beef before putting it in the oven, and  it turned out perfect.

Final step, is to remove the cooked meat from the pot and place it on a large cutting board.  I use two regular forks, one to hold the meat in place and the other to pull off strips.  Then place all the shredded meat back into the pot and serve.

Shredded Beef
1 boneless beef chuck roast (about 4 pounds)

3 tbsp cooking oil, divided
2 large onions, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1 cup beef broth
2/3 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp prepared mustard
2 tbsp molasses
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp pepper

12 - 16 kaiser rolls or hamburger buns.

In a dutch oven, brown roast on all sides in 1 tbsp of oil.  Meanwhile, in  a large saucepan, saute onions in remaining oil until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients except rolls; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Pour over the roast.  Cover and bake at 325 F for 2 hours.  Turn the roast and bake for 2 more hours or until meat is very tender.  Remove roast; shred with a fork and return to sauce.  Serve on rolls.

Note:  I didn't use the type of roast called for, I tend to use what ever cut is on sale, this time it was an outside round.  Choose the cut you like and can afford.  The long cooking is a great tenderizer.  You can skip the salt if you wish, since there is enough in the ketchup and the chili sauce.  This time I used a Thai Sweet and Spicy sauce and it added a little extra kick.  I often use plum sauce instead of chili sauce.  Don't be afraid to substitute for any item you don't happen to have in your pantry.

I served this to my parents and my dad even asked for some to take home for dinner the next day.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  On the weekend I will update the link to this week's foodie post.  You are invited to join in the fun and visit with all the other participants and see what they have been cooking.  Also includes various other food related posts such as cookbook and restaurant reviews and reviews of food related novels.