'I am simply a 'book drunkard.' Books have the same irresistible temptation for me that liquor has for its devotee. I cannot withstand them.' L.M. Montgomery

'There are no faster or firmer friendships than those formed between people who love the same books.' Irving Stone



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Need a Hug?

I've got you covered!




For all my blog friends, consider yourself hugged!
Posted by Dewey & Blaze Border Collies 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Comfort Food!

Joining Katrina @Pining for the West posting a recipe for Foodie Friday as she calls it! Be sure and jump over and check her recipe for Cheese and Onion Pasty.

I saw this recipe made on the Today Show a couple weeks back and it's been on my mind ever since so I had to get the ingredients and make it. It is a little time consuming, but you do the sofrito and beans the day before so that helps. This recipe says to soak the beans overnight but I always just parboil them for 15-20 minutes in place of an overnight soak and it works just as well and its one less thing I will forget to do the day before the day before! This was delicious, pure, unadulterated, comfort food. Be sure you have good crusty to bread!



CHICKEN CASSOULET


Ingredients

BEANS
3 cups dry white coco beans or Great Northern Beans
1 onion, halved
1 carrot, chopped in large pieces
1 stalk celery, chopped in large pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 fresh bay leaves


SOFRITO
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
3 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock


CASSOULET
1/2 pound thick-cut bacon, sliced into 2 x 1" slabs
6 chicken sausages or duck sausages
6 bone-in chicken thighs
Salt
Sofrito (above)
1/2 cup white wine
Beans (above)
1 cup chicken stock
Sachet of thyme and bay leaf
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Ground black pepper, to taste

Preparation

Note: The Beans and Sofrito should be made the day before.

For the Beans:

Soak the beans in three times the amount of water overnight. In a large pot, add the beans, the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves; add enough water to cover. Cook at a low simmer until the beans are tender. Allow beans to cool in the cooking liquid and reserve.

For the Sofrito:

In a food processor, mince the onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Place in sieve to drain the liquid from the vegetables.

In a saute pan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and sweat the vegetable mixture for 5 minutes, constantly stirring. Add the tomato paste, and cook for 1 minute. Deglaze the pan by adding the white wine, then add the chicken stock. Cook the vegetables until they are very soft. Blend the vegetables in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Cool and reserve.

For the Cassoulet:

Preheat oven to 350F. Temper all protein to room temperature for 15 minutes before cooking.

In a large Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, saute the bacon rendering the fat. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan. Add the sausages and saute to lightly brown the outside. Remove the sausages from the pan and set aside. Season the chicken thighs with salt, add them skin side down to the pan, saute until golden brown and set aside.

In the same Dutch oven, put 1 cup of the Sofrito and deglaze with the white wine. Stir in the Beans and sachet of thyme and bay leaf. Arrange the bacon, sausages and chicken in the Dutch oven. Add the chicken stock, cover and bake in oven for 2½ hours.

Remove from oven, remove the lid and top the cassoulet with bread crumbs. Return to oven and bake uncovered for 10 minutes (or until all protein is cooked through). Serve.

Remember, I'm no photographer! 


Here's the link to the recipe on the Today Show web page. There is a little video of the segment.


Monday, February 8, 2016

The Bells of Old Bailey by Dorothy Bowers

Scotland Yard looks into the connection between five suicides in Long Greeting and Miss Tidy, the white-haired owner of the village teashop.

  'It was not until the fifth death in Long Greeting that Miss Tidy made up her mind to go to the police.'
 The owner of the Minerva, a combination hat, tea, and beauty shop, Miss Tidy is a tiny, white-haired lady whose Dresden-doll daintiness conceals a cold and calculating heart. As everyone in the village is quick to point out, she is not a person who inspires affection in others.
  Five people had died in Long Greeting and its environs in the past months, all by their own hands, and their deaths are the talk of the small village. Although Miss Tidy doesn't realize it until she makes her statement to the police, Detective-Inspector Raikes of Scotland Yard has already been called down to Long Greeting to work with the local constabulary, in particular Superintendent Lecky. The villagers don't take kindly at first to an outsider in their midst, but as poison-pen letters and then murder follow upon the inexplicable suicides, they gradually begin sharing their secrets with Raikes and Lecky, until finally the sharp-witted detectives are able to make some sense of the puzzling events.
  A superb example of the classic English village mystery, The Bells of Old Bailey is the last book Dorothy Bowers published. She died at the age of 46 of tuberculosis the following year, 1948, shortly after her induction into England's prestigious Detection Club.    (back book cover)

This was an excellent read! Many red herrings, very convincing ones too that make you uncertain when you think you have it all figured out. The village of Ravenchurch was a typical English village and it's Superintendent Lecky was loath to think any of 'his' people could do such terrible things. But in reality Ravenchurch became a pool of hateful, mean people!

Delicious secrets, blackmail, nymphomania (yes, in a 1947 book!) greed, hatred and murder. Two of the quirky characters were Mrs. Weaver the bookshop owner and Miss Beaton the mystery novelist, my favorite character of course!

Here's a quote from Mrs. Weaver when Inspector Raikes was trying to get information about Edith Drakes from her...
"Dear me, people are very indifferent, though I don't suppose they mean to be. 'Laugh, and the world laughs with you.' I am myself, if it come to that - seemingly indifferent, you know, though not callous. It comes not so much from not caring as from being unobservant. I just can't see what goes on under my nose. Books segregate one a good deal, I'm afraid. So I don't know that I can help much. Edith Drake spent a long time with my books, but she didn't confide in me."

Dear Anthony Trollope got a mention too...
  'Raikes studied her. "Such remarkable precision of habit makes for longevity." was his assurance. "And Mr. Greatorex? Is his practice as regular?"
  "Of course. That is the foundation of his success. He has a great respect for Anthony Trollope, who, he tells me, was very careful to observe a timetable of work and relaxation."

This is my second Dorothy Bowers mystery and I enjoyed it even better than the first. It's a shame it was her last. I have one more on my shelf to read. Rue Morgue republished several of her books. I adore Rue Morgue books!

This book counts for Bev's Scavenger Hunt 2016 Gold, published before 1960 and fulfills a skull on the cover. The dinger on the bell is a skull!

Peggy Ann



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Gothic Fiction Reading Challenge 2016

I haven't really read much gothic since I was young, maybe one or two here and there. I saw Kay @ Kay's Reading Life was joining in a Gothic Reading Challenge and it whet my appetite for gothic! So I'm joining in too. Diana over @ Book of Secrets is hosting the challenge so if your interested run over there, check it out and sign up!

A lot of these books will qualify for Bev's Vintage Scavenger Hunt too! A bonus! I've picked up several gothic books lately so I'm looking forward to digging in! I might not get a lot read, but it will be fun and thats what reading is all about! I'll keep track of what I read here...



Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Trip to the Book Lovers Bookstore

Made a run up to Johnson City yesterday to the fabric store for fabric for curtains. On the way home I couldn't resist a stop in Book Lovers. I was all by myself and wouldn't have anyone breathing down my neck to lets get going! Found some good ones!

Elizabeth Cadell - Any Two Can Play

Alice Tilton (Phoebe Atwood Taylor) - The Left Leg, A Leonidas Witherall mystery

Elizabeth Ferrars - Fear the Light

Patricia Highsmith - A Suspicion of Mercy

Cyril Hare - With a Bare Bodkin

Jonathan Gash - The Judas Pair and The Gondola Scam

V.C. Clinton-Baddeley - Death's Bright Dart

Mary Roberts Rinehart- The Frightened Wife

L. R. Wright - A Touch of Panic and Kidnap






The day before we did some errands and stopped at a couple thrift stores and I got 3 books! One of them a Janet Caird gothic mystery. I was pretty pumped at that find!



I read Bev's (@ My Reader's Block) review of No. 9 Belmont Square a while back and thought it sounded good so was thrilled to happen on a copy.

And one more book arrived at my house via mail this last week...



I've been wanting to read this series since I got to meet Eric while in Scotland. He met up with us at the big Edinburgh book sale and then we all went for coffee. Katrina @ Pining for the West and her husband are friends of Eric's.


Peggy Ann

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Smothered Pork Chops

I found a Smothered Pork Chops recipe for the crockpot on Pinterest. It was a little more time consuming than you usually want for a 'throw it in the crockpot and walk away type recipe', but let me tell you it was worth the extra steps!!

Smothered Pork Chops

Ingredients:

4 -6 bone-in pork chops, about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick seasoned with salt and pepper on each side
5 slices bacon chopped
2 tablespoons canola oil
2  yellow onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. plus 1 tablespoon brown sugar
3  minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons water 
2 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

Pat the pork chops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper.

Cook bacon over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain,  store it in the fridge until later.

There should be about 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, just eyeball it. If it doesn’t look like there’s enough, add a little canola or vegetable oil and increase the heat to high. If there’s more than 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in the pan, drain some off until you’re left with 2 tablespoons.

Add the pork chops to the pan and cook for two to three minutes per side, until they are nicely browned.

Transfer the browned pork chops to the slow cooker.

Add a small amount of oil to the pan if there is no remaining fat/oil, about a teaspoon.

Add the onions, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp. brown sugar and 1/4 cup water and cook until the onions are translucent.

Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits of pork chop on the bottom of the pan.

Add in garlic and thyme and cook for another minute.

Pour this mixture over the pork chops.

To the skillet combine chicken stock, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar and bring to a boil.

Pour over pork chops and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the pork chops are tender.

Carefully remove the pork chops from the slow cooker and transfer to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm while you make the sauce.

Pour the liquid from the slow cooker through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan.

Place the solids in a blender, and add in 1 cup of the liquid from the saucepan. Blend on high until smooth.

Pour this mixture back into the saucepan and heat to medium high heat.

In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons water with 1-2 tablespoon corn starch. Pour this mixture into the sauce pan cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and is bubbly.

Stir in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve pork chop a top cooked rice or egg noodles, spoon gravy over the pork chop sprinkle with reserved bacon bits and fresh parsley

Recipe adapted from two sources...

I didn't taken any pictures so you'll have to go over to their sites and look at theirs!
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