Saturday, July 31, 2010

Weekend Cooking...Smitty's Clam Bar

Too hot to cook...ok, actually it is quite nice today...so let's go out and get something to eat. Let's go to that seaside town favorite, the clam bar.


If you look at the picture of the signs, you will not see anything that says Smitty's, but that is what everyone calls it. The 'real' name appears to be The Clam Bar at Smith's Marina...but to the people that pack the place, it's Smitty's. Located in Somers Point, just south of where I live and very conveniently very close to my branch of the county library, it is just the place to go for a seafood fix.

Every time I have been there has been for lunch. Odd but true. This place can get very busy and I like to avoid the rush. But go by there at dinnertime and you will see people sitting outside on the benches or checking out the boats at the surrounding marina or seeing what is going on along Bay Ave., waiting for a table to free up and their name to be called. But I like it early in the day.

Arrive a little before opening, when they are just putting the stools out at the counter and the cooks are still stirring those seriously big pots of chowder and you will see the provisions for the day being delivered. Big net bags filled with clams, little necks and top necks, that you can get raw or steamed. At Smitty's raw seems to reign, the clam shucker preparing plate after plate after plate to order. Few are the customers who don't seem to start with the chowder or clams..or both!

Then, it is time to move on to the entree. Again, the lucky early arrivers can see the boxes of all sort of fish and seafood arriving for the day. You can't beat the fried clams..or the shrimp or scallops..or the crabcake is pretty good. Or go for the combo and get them all. There is always a list posted on a whiteboard with the fish of the day, fried or baked with a sauce of your choosing to pick from. Yesterday, they had mako, tuna, grouper, flounder and a bunch of others. The guy at the stool next to me had mako in a ginger soy sauce and his buddy had a big cold seafood salad. They both looked quite nice. But no ginger mako for me.








I am a simple person, and after my cup of chowder...maybe I should have had the bowl...I went with a flounder sandwich with fries and a nice coleslaw. For me, it is usually that or the fried clams. Keep it simple. Those guys next to me also had the presence of mind to bring a little cooler filled with beer, the perfect beverage to go with ya 'chowda.
It is BYOB at Smitty's..The Clam Bar.



This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Friday, July 30, 2010

a review of "One Shot" [57]

One Shot by Lee Child
Delacorte Press. eISBN 978-0440335474
305 pages, June 14, 2005

"They sleep safely in their beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do them harm." George Orwell

And one such 'rough' man is the hero of this book, the ninth in the series, Jack Reacher. Loner extraordinaire, a man without a home, a car...a change of clothing...is our Jack. Ex-military police officer, when you need a tough notch investigator to drop in on a bus, to come to your aid and kick some ass, call Jack.

The story opens with a lone sniper setting up in a nearby parking garage and killing 5 office workers as they leave an office building and walk across a plaza. But as professional as the killings appears, there are a number of forensic clues left behind and in a short period of time, police make an arrest. The man arrested, despite all the evidence to the contrary, claims he is innocent and asks for someone to contact Reacher to help him. When we find out their history together, asking for Reacher appears a very odd, but interesting, choice to come to the accused shooter's aid. But then, of course, we find things are not all quite as they might appear at first as the book races on to an exciting, first order kick-ass conclusion..and Jack wanders off to the bus station. Well maybe after taking a short pause to kiss the girl..because I am sure Jack has a girl at evry bus stop.

This is the first book in this series that I have read and  quite an enjoyable book it is. The biggest appeal is, of course, the character of Reacher, and while I felt at a slight disadvantage at not knowing his history presented in the previous books, present dayJack is exciting enough. With one caveat perhaps. Ok, I get the loner thing, traveling around where the spirit moves him, where crime calls, avenging justice. I get not owing a home...even a car, not being tied down. But not traveling without any clothes...come on. Jack, buy a backpack for heavens sake. Throwing out dirty clothes is such a waste.

Still, even given that little annoyance, he is a great character and this is an entertaining book. He is smart, he is tough, he is resourceful...and he is always wearing new clothes! Yes, I had an inkling where this plot was going, even from that opening sniper scene. But the trip to the conclusion with out hero and a good cast of characters was great fun and I will be checking out some more books in the series in the future. And maybe hoping Jack buys a small suitcase.

One other thing about this book I might mention. If you are very observant, you may have notice from the ISBN number that the version I read was an e-book. "But Caite, don't you hate e-books?" Well, yes, I do have some "E" issues, but this was a free e-book, part of a promotion Barnes and Noble had if you downloaded their App. When I saw Mr. Child's book was one of the free books offered for download, I had to grab it. Now, reading a book on a netbook is not ideal..fine, but not ideal...and now I am afraid, terribly afraid, I may have to buy some sort of e-reader in the near future. Oh My....



Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Future of Publishing

Sometimes, it is all about how you look at something.
..be sure to watch the whole video to get the point!




My thanks to Inside Catholic for this one.

Bandit Thursday....A Smell in the Air..



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Bears of Cairo

An Interactive Public Arts Project in Cairo, New York









click for a bigger view of each image


...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

review of "The Pint Man" [56]

The Pint Man by Steve Rushin
Doubleday, ISBN 978-0385529921
February 23, 2010, 272 pages

Rodney, a thirty-something year old man who has not yet fully grown up, is in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment. Six weeks ago, he lost his job in 'corporate communications' for Talbott's when he wrote a speech for the CEO of the company and missed what proved to be a very embarrassing typo, and his search for a new job can hardly be called serious. On the personal side, his best friend Keith is moving to Chicago to get married and start a new job. But happily, there is still one constant in his life, his favorite neighborhood bar, Boyle's.
"Rodney has read a book called The Great Good Place, by an urban sociologist named Ray Oldenburg, who coined the phrase "the third place" to describe informal public gathering spaces-bars- that are neither home nor job. Rodney had no work and home was a way station, where he kept his books and his bed. For him, bars were his first. Home was the second. There was no third."
Yes, Boyle's plays a very important role in his life and in this book, but it is not the only thing. He has all those books...
"He kept every book he has ever read. Until there were just too many, he had them all on shelves, their spines displayed as trophies, like the taxidermied heads of big game he had bagged."
And now he has met a smart, beautiful woman, Mairead, "rhymes with parade", who shared his love of wordy banter...oh yes, it may be love!

On the surface, this book is a glimpse into Rodney's life and the love triangle he is caught in, between his bar and this delightful woman he has just met. While that is a fine story, with some very amusing incidents, the real attraction for this reader is Rodney's love of words...palindromes and witty banter, puns and spoonerisms, and endless examples of amusing trivia.
"Some people have a mind like a steel trap. Rodney had a mind like a lint trap. It retained only useless fluff: batting averages, ancient jingles, a slogan glimpsed once, years ago, on the side of a panel van, for an exterminator ("We'll Make Your Ants Say Uncle") or a window treatment specialist ("A Couple of Blind Guys") or a septic tank specialist ("Doody Calls")."
A man who love crossword puzzles and puns, who actually reads books and, most of all, could write an essay on what makes a good pint of Guinness...he may be the perfect man...lol

While this is Rushin's first novel, he is a very experienced writer. After graduating from college in 1988, he joined the staff of Sports Illustrated, where he was a senior writer until 2007. He has written three previous non-fiction books, including The Caddie Was a Reindeer, which was a semifinalist in 2004 for the Thurber Prize for American Humor. I suspect there is a bit of an autobiographical element to this book, at least in his love of Guinness and banter. And in how he met his wife, the former WNBA star Rebecca Lobo, in a bar. To quote a story from Wikipedia...
"In S.I., Rushin had written how he had slept with 10,000 women one night. He was referring, of course, to a WNBA game he watched and subsequently fell asleep. Rushin later recalled how Lobo confronted him in a Manhattan bar after reading that story. "She asked if I was the scribe who once mocked, in Sports Illustrated, women's professional basketball," he wrote. "Reluctantly, I said that I was. She asked how many games I'd actually attended. I hung my head and said, "None." And so Rebecca Lobo invited me to watch her team, the New York Liberty, play at Madison Square Garden. We both reeked of secondhand Camels. (And, quite possibly, of secondhand camels: It was that kind of a dive.) But my insult had been forgiven. It was—for me, anyway—love at first slight." He added: "She had the longest legs, the whitest teeth, the best-sown cornrows I had ever seen, and I imagined us to have much in common. I ate Frosted Flakes right out of the box, and she was on boxes of Frosted Flakes. I am ludicrous, and she was name-dropped in a rap by Ludacris. We were, I thought, made for each other."

Ok, enough quotes. But I can't help it, since I find Mr. Rushin a very amusing writer and I thoroughly enjoyed this wordy romp of a novel.


My sincere thanks to Random House for a copy of this book.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Musing Monday...It's All About the Love.

This week’s musing asks…
Do you review books? If so, for who?
If not, have you ever thought about doing so? Why, or why not?

Do I review books? Well, I try to! I will let my readers decide. ;-)
Yes, I do review books, most of the books, that I have read. Not as many as some bloggers, more than others.

Who do I review them for? Well, for my readers and for myself of course. But I don't think that is what you meant. I think you were asking if I review for certain groups or publishers or publicists. In other words, where do I get the books that I read and review.

Well, probably the first time I realized that it might be possible to get books from various sources other than me just buying them, was when I joined Library Thing. A wonderful site that allowed me to organize my books but that also exposed me to many other members, posting about books, and also the home of Library Thing Early Reviewers. For those not familiar with it, members of LT can request books from a monthly list of books being offered by publishers in return for a review on Library Thing. You make your request, a Giant Algorithm is applied, at least partially based on the books you have in your Library Thing list, and you may 'win' a book. Or you may not. I was very successful at first, winning about 12 books in a row in the first year and then having a drought for about the same amount of time. So I went in search of other sources. Again, LT was a great source of information, on several threads where I first read about these Advance Review Copies and how I might get a few of them. Again, the idea is that you read the book and publish a review and so my Blog was born.

I do not have any relationship with a particular publisher, requesting books solely based on what interests me, regardless of the source. And then, after maybe a year of blogging, I started receiving some offers of books for review from a numbers of publicists. I request some books and decline some books, first not to get too far ahead of what I can deal with and second based totally on what seems to be a book that I would enjoy and do justice to in a review. I like to try and accept books from a wide number of sources rather than just a couple of publicists because quite honestly, I don't think that a blogger who reviews books should be too cozy with any one person who, let's face it, is just looking to get the book they are being paid to represent out there. That is their job, a fine job, and many of them are very nice people, but my obligation is not to them. No my obligation is to the reader of my review who may be influenced to spend or not spend their money on a book based on what I say.

And finally, I am also a member of Amazon Vine. I admit that I was a little concerned about that program when I was offered the chance to join. Would a reviewer be tossed out if they posted too many negative reviews? Well, not so far!

But, I also get a good percentage of the books I read from more traditional sources, like the local public library. Of course, they want the books back. I used to think that was a bad thing, but as the piles of books in my house have grown, I am seeing it as a better and better thing. I read the book, write a review and if it is something that I really loved, then I can always buy a copy to have for my very own. Yes, I do still buy books. Not as many as I once did, what with these other sources, but sometimes I just have too. Take the third, and last, book in the Millennium Trilogy. I actually ordered that from a company in England, to get it before it was published in the US and I just bought the latest Tess Gerritsen book, after I found I had 37 people ahead of me when I requested it at the library.

That takes us back to my original, slightly joshing point. I review books not for the publishers, or the authors or the publicists. I don't do it for Library Thing or Amazon Vine. No,  I review them to share what I think with those of my readers who may be interested in what books I thought were great and those I thought were not so great.  I review them to help me be a better, more thoughtful reader. And ultimately, I do it to be part of a community of people who love books, who love to read books and love to talk about books. Yes, it's all about the book love!



Musing Monday is hosted, as always, by MizB at Should Be Reading. Drop by and check out some other answers.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekend Cooking... A Full Irish Breakfast


If you have ever been to Ireland, especially if you stayed in a B&B, you are no doubt familiar with what is called a Full Irish Breakfast. You will be asked if you want the full version, or for the faint of heart, something a little less substantial. Often, especially in colder weather, you will be offered oatmeal to start, that very healthy steel cut oat version. Then will come the hot breakfast.

The Irish like their pork product and their dairy products, and both are on display at breakfast time. Typically, the Irish breakfast will start with a couple of pork sausages and a slice of Irish bacon. Now Irish bacon is a very different thing than our typical American bacon, more like ham or Canadian bacon. It is called back bacon and is made from the loin rather than fatty, belly meat like the American version.

Then there are the puddings, a slice of black and a slice of white typically. What is this black pudding? I remember being at breakfast in a B&B once and a couple at the next table asked the waiter what it was. He danced around the issue and never really said, because if he did they would not have tried it. It is a blood sausage, made with pork blood, barley or oatmeal and spices. It is sliced into rounds and fried crispy...which makes it turn black. White pudding is similar but without the blood. The Irish have been until recently, a very rural people and on a farm, no part of the pig goes to waste. The best black pudding is found in smaller butcher stores, while many of the commercial version, especially the ones you can buy in the US, are an inferior product. But beggers can't be choosy.

And then of course, there will be a farm fresh egg. If the kitchen is putting in a bit more effort, there will also be a grilled tomato and some grilled mushrooms. If you go up to the north, there will often be some baked beans as well. Sometimes, some sort of fried potatoes may make an appearance.
But there will always be an endless amount of strong, hot tea (oh, ok, coffee too) and a basket of brown bread and white soda bread with some wonderful Irish butter. If you are lucky, some homemade jam may be on the table too.

Now, I do wonder how many Irish eat anything like that for breakfast in their homes. Just as few in the US eat eggs and bacon for breakfast on a regular basis these days, I suspect many Irish are eating some cold cereal or a container of yogurt in the morning. But I know for a fact those same foods are still very popular other times of day in many an Irish home, for lunch or supper or a late night meal, and called a fry up.

Start your day with that and you will be fired up to face a full day of farm work..or a full day of touring the countryside!

Back on St. Patrick's Day, I shared my recipe for brown bread, made with Irish whole wheat flour, oatmeal and buttermilk and today I will share my recipe for soda bread, a quick, white, slightly sweet loaf. I don't put raisins in my soda bread, as many American versions have, but you could certainly add raisins or currents, or as the Niece suggest, craisins.

Irish Soda Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
3 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking power
1 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
1 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet in another, then combine the two. The dough will be rather wet and sticky. Dust your hands with flour and just knead a few turns to form a ball. You can bake it in a flat non-stick pan or, as I do, in a oiled and floured Pyrex bowl.
Bake in a pre-heated 375 degrees oven for about 40 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean and the loaf sound hollow if tapped on the bottom. Remove from the oven and wrap in a clean tea towel until cool.
At least a bit cooler...

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Friday, July 23, 2010

a review of "In The Name Of Honor" [55]

In The Name of Honor by Richard North Patterson
Henry Holt and Co., ISBN 978-0805087741
June 29, 2010, 416 pages

The ties that bind the McCarrans and the Gallaghers go back for decades. General Anthony McCarran, on the fast track to be made head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was best friends with John Gallagher and was with him when John was killed in Vietnam. When some years later his own wife died, leaving two small children, Brian and Meg, it was only natural that the two McCarran children and the slightly older Kate Gallagher should grow up rather as siblings, with Rose Gallagher as a second mother, taking care of the children when Anthony was away from home on duty.

Now, it is years later and young Brian has followed his father into the Army infantry. In fact, his commanding officer in Iraq was Captain Joe D'Abruzzo, the husband of Kate. Both men have now returned from their tour overseas, but both have returned changed men. Joe is distant from his family, drinking a great deal, at times violent. Brian is doing his best to appear as if everything is normal but he is awaken nightly from terrible nightmares and can barely function during the day. Then, in the event that will be key to the story, Brian shoots and kills D'Abruzzo. He claims it was self defense, but the prosecution soon uncovers some facts that paint a very different story.

Since this will be a high profile case, the JAG appoints one of their best, Captain Paul Terry for the defense, and he is soon joined in the defense by Brian's sister Mag, now a lawyer. The stakes involved are huge, for all the families involved, for the military and, of course, for Brian, who is accused of a cold blooded murder. The outcome will reach to the heart of this big, intertwined 'family'.

There were a few things I liked about this book. The description of the men's combat experiences, thought much briefer than they might have been, were well done. Captain Terry, who, as the defense attorney, is the central character of the book, is interesting and appealing enough. From there it was, for me, pretty much down hill.

Most of the other charters are painted with broad, shallow strokes and are very hard to ever connect with. And no one, except Terry, is very likable. These people are very short on the honor mentioned in the title and very, very big on lies. CYA is the central theme in this crowd and I missed exactly where the honor was involved. The story is not terribly unique and is told in a very repetitive way. Brian tell the story. The defense questions the story. The defense presents the same story. The prosecution presents the same story, yet again, with a slightly different twist. I kept waiting for the big reveal, the big surprise that would turn it all around...and it never came.

Ok, there was a Big Surprise at the end and as you may know I usually love a Big Surprise, one last great twist, at the end of a book. But not this time. This one was so unbelievable, so out of the blue, that it left me shaking my head.
Sadly, for me this book was a thriller that was not very thrilling, a courtroom drama pretty light on the drama. This one just never grabbed me.


My thanks to Henry Holt for a ARC of this book.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- Pennsylvania Bridges







...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

a review of "Echoes From The Dead" [54]

Echoes from the Dead by Johan Theorin
Translated by Marlaine DelargyScan
Delta, ISBN 978-0385342216
Paperback, 400 pages, November 25, 2008

It is a foggy September day on the Swedish island of Oland and a young boy, left in the care of his grandparents for the day, see a chance for an adventure. While his grandfather Gerlof is down by the water mending fishing nets and his grandmother is taking a nap, little Jens climbs over the stone wall around their summer cottage and sets out across the alvar, a rocky limestone plain, covered with moss, sparse vegetation and stunted trees that makes up much of the island. The fog grows thicker and thicker, the boy as scared and lost..and then out of the fog comes a man who identifies himself to Jens as Nils Kant. When he does not return home, the police are called, islanders ban together to search the island but no sign of the boy is ever seen again.

Some twenty years later, the boy's mother, Julia, has never recovered from not knowing what happen to her son that day. A nurse, she has been out on a medical leave from her job, spending her days watching the shopping channel on TV and her nights drinking an ever increasing amount of wine. Then she gets a call from her father, who is retired and living in a nursing home on the island. He and a couple of his old pals have never stopped speculating about what happened to the boy and now he has received a terrible reminder in the mail. Someone has sent him, in an unmarked envelope, one of the sandals the boy was wearing the day he disappeared and he wants Julia to come to the island and help him try and finally find out what really happened to Jens.

They begin questioning people, opening up old wounds and old suspicions and find a connection to the son of a wealthy landowner who decades before Jens disappearance had fled the island. He had killed a policeman, was suspected in the deaths of several others, including his brother, and a number of other unsavory deeds beginning when he was just a child. As a young man, he fled to South America and returned to Oland in a coffin, buried in the churchyard years before the boy disappeared. His name was Nils Kant.

The story is told in two time frames, the present, with Julia and her father perusing a mystery that has tentacles that reach far back into the history of the island and also with flashbacks to the story of Nils, from the time he was a boy, a creepy, evil little boy, and through the terrible misadventures of his angry, violent life. They are connected, in ways that will surprise the reader and endanger the lives of the characters in the present day searching for the truth.

As a mystery, it is an excellent story. The setting on the island of Oland, a sunny beach resort filled with visitors in the summer, cold and deserted and rather bleak in a beautiful way the rest of the year, is perfect. It seems that the author has, in real life, spent a good deal of time there and it is telling. As the story of a woman trying to heal both herself and her relationship with her father, it is totally believable and ultimately hopeful. Well, not quite as much when the author throws us the last, totally surprising twist at the end.

Echoes From the Dead is an intense, dark, rather disturbing story, a classic Scandinavian mystery that was voted Best First Mystery Novel by the authors and critics of the Swedish Crime Writers' Academy when it was published. I know that I will soon be seeking out Mr. Theorin's second book The Darkest Room, that was voted the Best Swedish Crime Novel of 2008 and won the Glass Key award in 2009.

Highly recommended, especially for fans of Scandinavian mysteries.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Musing Monday...What are those things...books?

This week’s musing asks....

What does your bookshelf (or, what do your bookshelves) say about you to the people who come into your home?

Leading my hermit like life, I don’t get a lot of visitors in my humble hovel. But when I do, especially when they see the bookcases in my den, well many are a bit taken back. Those cases hold about 800 of the 1300 or so book that I own, so they don’t even account for the shelves and piles scattered around in other places. If I could get them all together, that would be cool. But perhaps it is even odder in the eyes of many.

The last strangers that I think that were in my house was when two TV repairs guy arrived to try (unsuccessfully ) to fix the Big Screen some months ago and they just could not get over all those books. Even more the fact that I had actually read them. They asked me that several times in fact... “You have read all those books?” They really seemed to think it was not an ordinary occurrence.

See, there is the salient point I think. It is not just owning books. That is a whole other question… why I actually want all those books in my house. No, the point is simply that, like many of you all, I actually read books.

We here in BlogLand, many with book related sites, sometimes fall into the mistaken idea that everyone reads books. Well, they do not. I read maybe 2 to 3 books a week, no great achievement among book blogs, many of whom read many more per week. The 1300 books I own represent just a small percentage of the books I have read in my lifetime. But that 2-3 a week...well, we have to remember that many, many people do not read that many books in a year! Some have probably not read that many since they left school where they may have been forced to crack a couple open. We read books, we buy books, we talk about books, we read about reading books, we love books...but it is not a love everyone shares or understands.

So sad.

For them.



Musing Monday is hosted, as always, by MizB at Should Be Reading. Drop by and check out some other answers.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekend Cooking...Corn Fritters

As you may know, or I may have mentioned before, New Jersey is called the Garden State. Yes, I know, if your total knowledge of NJ is Newark Airport or the Turnpike, you may not understand that. But get away from the highways, especially down in the southern half and central part of the state, and you may see why. Where did the nickname come from?

Well, according to Netstate.com...
"This nickname seems to have originated at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia on Jersey Day, August 24, 1876. Alfred M. Heston states in his 1926 work, Jersey Waggon Jaunts, that "The Garden State" was used by Abraham Browning, of Camden. "In his address Mr. Browning compared New Jersey to an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and the New Yorkers from the other. He called New Jersey the Garden State, and the name has clung to it ever since.
In later years, the explanation has evolved to reference New Jersey truck farms that provide floral and agricultural produce to cities in the area instead of an "immense barrel." These farms have catered, particularly, to the New York and Philadelphia metropolitan areas."
Our soil down here is sandy and rather acidic, which is actually a great medium for many crops. No tomato in the world beats a fresh Jersey tomato. None. Do not even try.
We produce excellent peaches and, even with our tiny size, we are the third largest producer of cranberries in the nation. It was in NJ that blueberries were first grown as a domestic crop and today we are the second largest producers of the tasty, vitamin rich fruit today..but when I think of summer and NJ crops, I think first of corn, lovely, sweet Jersey corn.

Now corn does not need much to be perfect. Drop in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Remove and slather with a bit of butter, salt..and my personal favorite...fresh black pepper.

But if you would like to try something a little more elaborate, I will share with you a favorite corn recipe my mother used to make, Corn Fritters. Now, we always had then with maple syrup, a wonderful side dish to something like ham. But you can twist the recipe a bit, adding some very finely minced onion, maybe a bit jalapeno pepper and make a savoy fritter, lovely served maybe with a fruit salsa. Of course, you can also add chopped clams and make clam corn fritters...but that is a whole different dish.
So, with no further ado...

Corn Fritters

3 cups oil for frying
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 cup corn meal
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup milk
1 tbsp melted butter
1 cup corn

Heat oil to 365 degrees.
Mix dry ingredients. Mix wet in separate bowl then add to dry. Lastly add corn.
Drop by spoonful into oil and fry several minutes until golden brown.
Drain on a paper towel and serve.



This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Friday, July 16, 2010

a review of "Hailey's War" [53]

Hailey's War by Jodi Compton
Shaye Areheart Books,
ISBN 978-0307588050
Hardcover, 304 pages, June 15, 2010

One day, twenty-four year old Hailey Cain was on the path of her dreams, just a couple of months away from graduating from the military academy at West Point. Then, a short time later, she is out of the academy, working as a bike messenger in San Francisco. Why, what happen to cause her to leave, is not something she will discuss, not even with the only two people she counts as her friends.

One is her cousin CJ Mooney, a country boy who has made it very big in the music industry as a record producer. The other is Serena Delgadillo, someone she first met in high school, now the head of a cliqua, a female street gang. Both are in Los Angeles, and it is to LA that Hailey first heads when she leaves the academy and where she reconnects with them both. And it is from LA that she again must leave, to start over in San Fransisco, when she is at the center of a terrible tragedy that may put her very life in danger.

She has just settled into her life in The City by the Bay, risking life and limb on her bike, living off an adrenaline high, when she gets a call from Serena, asking her to take a job as a favor to her. A young, pregnant, Mexican girl, the cousin of a recently killed gang member, needs an escort across the border. Hailey takes the job but soon finds herself in the middle of something much bigger, something that almost costs her life. A group of men ambush them on a remote road, leaving Hailey shot on the side of the road and left for dead and the young woman, Nidia, missing.

Hailey's sense of honor, her need to complete the job she started, will not let her stop there. She must find if Nidia is still alive and rescue her and her unborn child. She feels compelled to get even further involved, even if it means going up against mobsters, risking her life yet again, teaming up with gang members and ultimately returning to confront what happen that forced her to leave Los Angeles.
And finally, perhaps, we will discover Hailey's biggest secret, why she had to give up her dream.

While Hailey is an intriguing and interesting character, I did have a few issues with this story. Central to this book are the LA street gangs to which Serena belongs and which Hailey gets involved with to try and rescue Nidia. For me, her comfort at that involvement, even her friendship and connection with Serena to begin with, did not ring totally true. The author tries to make a case for certain similarities between the young women...I was not totally buying it. Then there is the rather odd nature of her relationship with her cousin CJ, which I will leave you to discover yourself. That these are her two best friends says something about Hailey, something that makes it even harder to pin down who she is as a real character.

But even with these issues, there is a good deal about this book to recommend it. If you are a fan of kick-ass female characters, Hailey is indeed that. It is a fast paced and well written story with enough twists and turns and surprises to keep the reader interested. And the book concludes with a revelation that you will not see coming and a few open questions that may lead, hopefully, to some future adventures with Hailey Cain.



My thanks Read It Forward from Crown Publishing for an ARC of this book.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wordless Wednesday- A Trip to the Zoo

Let's Go To The Zoo!!

Peacock

Zebras at Feed

Barnyard Play

Hmmm...not sure.


American Bison

A Family Portrait..see the baby?

Capybara..the World's Largest Rodent



...as always, for more Wordless Wednesday, check these out.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Give Up..

A week ago, many Blogger users had a problem with their comments, as did I.
So...I tried out Intense Debate, a different commenting system. And while there is much I like about it, all sorts of other problems followed. Sometimes Intense Debate would appears..sometimes the old Blogger system. Comments would appears..and disappear..and sometimes come back.
I attempted to contact ID's support by e-mail and received no answer,so I have deleted it. If you commented in the last few days, many of those comments are gone. A few from today I copied over and reposted.
As to the missing ones...
I read them.
And often answered them.
And appreciated them all.

So now we will see how old Blogger is working. ;-)

a review of "Live To Tell" [52]

Live To Tell: A Detective D.D.Warren Novel by Lisa Gardner
Bantam Books, July 13, 2010, ISBN 978-0553807240

This is the latest in the Detective Sergeant D.D.Warren series but do not be at all concerned if you have read the previous books. This book totally stands alone and any necessary back story is clear. But it does make me think I should go back and read some of the others, because this was an excellent book and I can only assume I would like the others as much.

This is a book about children with severe psychological issues, children who were born with them, children that acquired them as the result of abuse, their families, and those professionals that work with them.

We view these issues from several points of view. First there is Danielle, herself the sole survivor of a family annihilation, when her father killed the entire family, her mother, sibling and then himself, leaving only her, in her room, hearing the whole thing, alive. Severely damaged herself, now she works with these terribly troubled children, bringing a unique perspective to their treatment.

Then there is Victoria, a woman caring for her very, very scary eight year old son, introduced in one of the best chapters I have ever read in a book. Ever. Knocked my socks off.

And, of course, we then have D.D., called in to investigate what appears at first to be a case where a father killed his entire family and then tried to kill himself. But when there is a second incident, with ties to the first, it seems police may be dealing with something quite different and, as hard as it is to believe, even more disturbing.

I have read several of Ms. Gardner books before, and while I certainly enjoyed them, this book was, for me, in a whole other category of reading pleasure. I do warn you that the whole topic that runs throughout the book, of children who are mentally disturbed may not be everyone's cup of tea. It is very well done, from several perspectives, but at times, very intense.

An excellent book, fast paced, disturbing, and very well written and highly recommended.



My thanks to Bantam Books for an ARC of this book.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Musing Monday... Look! A Bright Shiny Object! Awwww....

This week’s musing asks…
Can you read amidst distractions? (TV, others talking, sporting events, etc)

I think the world may be divided into two groups, those who can not deal with 'distractions' and those who can not deal without them. I count myself among the latter group.

I will give you an example. I have mentioned my job before. The job, for an unnamed company, requires someone, myself or one of my three co-workers, to be there 24/7/365. Much of that, outside of normal business hours when there are other people working in the same building, we are alone. Very shortly after 9-11, a very wise Big Boss Man decided it would be a good idea to have a TV in our work area, to see what was going on in the world...and provide some 'company' at night. So it is on all day, turned down low, tuned to a news channel or the Weather Channel. Well, until they all go home.

I don't really even notice it as I go about my work. I will glance at it if something interesting comes on the screen, but it is not a distraction to me. But my immediate boss reacts quite difference. If he needs to come to my work area to 'fix' something, he wants the TV off. He can not work with it on, certainly can't talk to someone on the phone with it in the background.
I asked him once if he was one of those kids that had to have the TV off when he did his homework. He answered "Of course!" and looked at me with horror and disbelief...lol

I am not sure why it is this way. Maybe because I was the first generation that had a TV in just about every home, when the novelty of color TV appeared. Maybe it is just the way my brain is wired. But whatever the reason, I need that 'background noise', be it a TV, or radio or music. I live alone, so otherwise it would be very quiet in my house and I actually find total quiet distracting. So usually, when I am home, doing whatever, the TV is on. It is on now, in the kitchen, as I write this. And it is on when I read.

Now a caveat. What is on the TV can not be something you really want to watch. For me, at home or at work that means things like HGTV or the Food Channel or the Discovery Channel or History Channel. I love the Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers, House Hunters or my personal favorite background show...reruns of Law and Order. Oh, how I will miss new Law and Order episodes...{{sob}}. They are there but I feel no need to really pay attention to them. But some shows are different. Tonight we have the season premiere of The Closer, a show I love, and the series premiere of Rizzoli & Isles, based on the Tess Gerritsen books. I will not be reading while I watch those shows. Very excited about those and no reading or anything else will be going on when I watch those two shows tonight. TNT.
9 to 11 pm.
Tonight!



Musing Monday is hosted, as always, by MizB at Should Be Reading. Drop by and check out some other answers.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Weekend Cooking... The Most Necessary Grilling Tool

Like many of you out there, I enjoy a bit of grilling, especially in the summertime. But when it comes to grilling, I am a purist. No natural gas, no propane...no, only charcoal will do. Yes, gas is very convenient, but to my mind it is sort of like you are using a kitchen appliance, but you are just doing it in the backyard. For me, it is charcoal or nothing! So as I stand in the backyard, with my not overly cold beer (see this post if you want to travel down that road) and stare at my slightly dented Weber kettle grill, the classic charcoal grill, I realize that I must share with you the wonderful thing that brought ease and speed and clean hands to my grilling..the Wonderful Weber Charcoal Chimney.

I remember the days before the chimney, days filled with the smell...and taste...of lighter fluid and the occasional burst of flame that endangered my eyebrows. There were the times those lighter fluid doused coals refused to fully light and then, at risk to life, the question arose of whether to add more of the dreaded fluid. Someone grab the hose!
But then, happily, somewhere, I read of the chimney and the rest was grilling heaven.

If you are not familiar with it, a charcoal chimney is a cylinder of steel, about 12-13 inches tall and about 7 inches wide. In the bottom of the open cylinder is a grate that hold the charcoal a few inches off the bottom and there are a series of holes around the bottom and up the sides. You put a sheet of rolled up newspaper in the bottom, under the grate. You fill the cylinder with charcoal. You place the filled chimney on the bottom grate of your grill and light the newspaper through the holes. The paper lights, draws air up through the coals in about 15 minutes you will have a big pile of red hot coals that you will carefully pour in your grill. Be careful..red hot.
Grab the burgers and dogs folks!

According to a recent Cooks Illustrated article, the best charcoal chimney in their tests was found to be the Weber. It is big enough to hold 6 qts. of coals, enough for the 22 Weber kettle grill, it is very well made, has two handles to help pouring the hot coals and at about $15 for something that I will testify will last years, very reasonably priced. Yes, a bit rusty, and a bit discolored from the intense heat it reaches, but in fine shape.
"In the end, our previous favorite model was still the best performer and had it all: sturdy construction, generous capacity, heat resistance, dual handles, excellent air circulation for rapid heating, and a low price."
Not one drop of nasty lighter fluid will ever near those lovely burgers, that fine, thick steak, that fresh, sweet Jersey corn, ever again.

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


Friday, July 9, 2010

a review of "Lumby on the Air" [51]

Lumby on the Air by Gail Fraser
New American Library, ISBN 978-0451230041
July 6, 2010, Paperback, 496 pages

Summer is here, the time for family reunions and county fairs, and those returning for the fifth in this series, set in the Pacific Northwest town of Lumby, will be taking part in both.

Pam and Mark Walker, the owners of the Montis Inn, are about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and have planned to renew their vows after spending a week with their gathered family members. It will be a gathering for better or worse, because no family is without their conflicts. First, there is Mark's sister Lynn, who he has not spoken to years. Then there are Patrick and Elaine, whose teenage daughter, Mark and Pam's niece, is ranting about being dragged to this reunion on every available social network and chat room she can find on her computer and laptop and Blackberry. And then there is Marks' sister Nancy, whose husband Carter, a radio host with a multi-million person audience, has taken over the inn to broadcast his radio show live, spewing out some quite disparaging opinions about the little town of Lumby. Throw in a millionaire developer who has his eye on a huge chunk of land just outside of town for a ski resort that will forever change the face of the charming little town and not everything will be going totally smoothly.

On top of all this, Mark has decided to enter all sorts of events at the fair that he has no experience at, like carving with a chainsaw, and leading a bull through an obstacle course. Let's just say most bulls are not really into be led anywhere. Does anyone have a first aid kit? And Pam's widowed mother Kay has come to visit, with a 'friend' her daughter is rather shocked to meet.

As I said, this is the fifth book in the series..and I have not read the previous four. While I don't think it is totally necessary to read the books in order, since the author gives us a brief outline of the required background of the main characters, I think it might help one's enjoyment of the book. Maybe that is what accounts for my inability to really identify with them..that or the fact that several of them are more like broad caricatures than real people. Fraser wants to paint a picture of this rather idyllic place, where the people are good, if slightly quirky, neighbors and where people band together to help each other.
"Pam's voice went up an octave. "But don't you think we each have a responsibility to each other?"
"Would that be a financial, moral or social responsibility?" Carter said sarcastically.
"All of the above!" she argued. "Our town is defined by how we treat each other. And it's that sense of responsibility that lies at the heart of our community."
To do so, Fraser paints in broad stokes, where the good are very good and the bad are annoying and quite unlikable...until they hopefully are won over by the 'magic' of Lumby.

Then there is the character of Hank..a pink, plastic flamingo...
"Although many of the carnival rides would be arriving the next day, the huge Ferris wheel, aptly named The Air, had already been assembled. The operating crew of three was just beginning to go through the long engineering checklist before they ran their first test. One of the operators had climbed up the frame of the ride and was swinging from a roped harness, trying to replace burned out lightbulbs among those that outlined the massive wheel. From all appearances, the worker was engaged in a serious conversation with Hank, the town’s mascot, a plastic pink flamingo who was perched in the highest basket of the Ferris wheel, eating popcorn and sipping from a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade."
See, he is plastic..and eats popcorn and drinks lemonade. OK...I am sorry, but I just didn't get Hank.

On the plus side, Lumby on the Air, will no doubt appeal to fans of the previous books. Lumby is a pleasant place to visit for a light, fun, summer read, the sort of place where we would love to spend some time if such a place really existed. The town of Mayberry may come to mind. The illustrations, by Art Poulin, who also happens to be Fraser's husband, are charming. If you are looking for a nice beach or hammock read, and can just relax your tight hold on reality just a little bit, this might be a series that would interest you. The dramas are small, the pace is easy and the reader has a feeling that, in the end, all will work out for the best.



My thanks to Caitlin at FSB Associates for an ARC of this book.