Jul 13, 2017 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Crowded Grave

Death in the French Countryside

by Martin Walker

Martin Walker does not disappoint his followers with this, the fourth book about Bruno, the small-town Chief of Police who cooks (extravagant dishes), is open to new experiences (learns to ride a horse), is a quick thinker on his feet (always saving someone), and great in bed (but we already knew that:)

A recently dead body is found in an archaeological dig in the midst of a Green Party vs traditionalists fois gras protest. The Crowded Grave embraces spy’s, secrets and Sauternes, just the way I like it.

Originally posted 2012-12-10 00:36:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 12, 2017 - Blog    3 Comments

Videos Could Kill You. Cool!

Er… I mean videos about what could kill you are cool. These clever little 2-3 minute videos of how common things could kill you are actually miniature, obscure health tips.

For example, it so happens that hand sanitizer has twice the alcohol of hard liquor, so naturally some college kids (boys) tried to get a buzz on eating the stuff and, you guessed it, wound up in hospital. Yeah, not very smart – but it’s kinda funny. Generally I leave my alcohol intake to the occasional glass of wine, but that’s me.

So what else can kill you? Apparently loads of things you thought were healthy, can kill. Take, for instance the humble cherry; they’re in the stone fruit family by virtue of their very hard seeds like peaches and plums, and a single cherry pit contains enough cyanide to kill an adult if swallowed. But why would you eat that rock hard thing that is larger than any pill a doctor give you? Seems to me your safest bet is moderation and logic.

But come on, you’re not stupid enough to mow off your toes, are you? Well, are you?! If you want a laugh at what we’ve learned from experience, check out a few videos about what could kill you from the ULIVE videos. They are cute and very well done, besides.

http://www.ulive.com/what-you-dont-know-could-kill-you

You could also Google “could kill you” and learn – the fun way. One of my fav’s was

http://www.energyfiend.com/death-by-caffeine

But don’t over do it. Watching over 1000 could-kill-you videos could kill you. But hey, that’s kinda funny: “Death by Health Videos”. Cool  :D

 

Originally posted 2013-10-27 01:30:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 12, 2017 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Osiris Ritual

A Thick, Twisting , Multi-layered Suspense

by George Mann

For those readers with delicate stomachs, be warned. Several murder scenes are particularly gruesome. Aside from that, fans of detective adventure with a touch of supernatural, will be thrilled.

George Mann’s view of the past is a mixture of both historically correct technology, like the first automobiles, and cybernetic things that go bump in the night, rightfully scaring the crap out of us. His characters have similarities to other beloved stories from Sherlock Holmes to the Etherman of Hell Boy. Like most Steampunk tales, this one takes place in London at the end of the 1800s, and yet it is as fresh and original as any new science that must be gotten to on the shoulders of sciences that went before. I couldn’t put it down.

Best of all, the ending is ripe for a sequel!

Originally posted 2012-12-31 21:23:19. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 11, 2017 - Blog    No Comments

Curious Peeping Toms

“I was in Toronto, Canada last night.”

“I’m flying over the Arabian desert.”

“I was just in a seedy motel on 7th.”

“Coool.”

 

This recent conversation between writer’s and readers got me to thinking: until today I thought the two were opposites. I’ve changed my opinion. 

They are the same – we both want to see beyond the veil. We are curious. We want some adventure in our lives that doesn’t wreck our credit or cut our skin, it doesn’t hold us hostage (for more than about 350 pages), and we can save ourselves simply by stepping away from the text.

The dirty truth is we kinda want to look through the key hole.

You probably think writers know what they are going to write. That may be so, sometimes, but on the whole we are sitting at our keyboards, listening to voices in our heads. We are being entertained just as much as the reader who is watching it unfold. We aren’t so different – we want what everybody else wants: a couch potato adventure.

 

Originally posted 2013-11-06 21:59:33. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 11, 2017 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Wine in the Desert

I’m in Vegas this weekend with friends, and we’ve been out on the town (in the heat) and eaten our fill of restaurant fare, so tonight we stayed in the condo.

Trebbiano Pinot Grigio I made a faux Chicken Marsala – which was pretty tasty. Either that, or we were really hungry!

Normally, this dish is served with a bottle of wine. We drank three… three different kinds. (Is that ok?) All were inexpensive – an unbelievable $1.99 from the Las Vegas Trader Joe’s (though not marked TJ’s), and all were good! Products of Umbria, Italy. We started with a 2010 Vola Trebbiano Pinot Grigio before the table was set, had a 2010 Vola Sangiovese with dinner, and drank Cupcake Chardonnay for dessert, also from TJ’s which I brought from Los Angeles, and goes for $9.99. My mom liked it and got me a bottle, bless her heart. The label says citrus-y with a hint of vanilla. While I could tell there was something sweet-ish in the flavour, to me it came across as a sweet bark flavour, like cinnamon but not cinnamon. While I was deciding, up came that Chardonnay oak that I love. Nice.

For background music and entertainment, I put on a travel video of Southern France and all were happy. Don’t worry, it’s alright to mix cultures. I’m American with a European upbringing and I say it’s okay.

But I’m thinking you might be wondering, “What exactly is faux Chicken Marsala?” Before we get into that, I want to tell you a cooking secret: whatever you cook, the food always tastes better if the chef has a glass of wine first.

Having no idea what I’m going to make, I check the fridge for supplies. We had boneless, skinless chicken and some grapes – three colours, in fact. I found a box of raisins, and thankfully there were onions.

I sauté at least three loosely chopped onions in olive oil and butter in a pot while browning the chicken in a skillet, also with a bit of olive oil and butter. To the onions, I added grapes, raisins, bit of pepper and any other seasoning salt I could find (I found Lawry’s) but not much or it will toughen the meat and taste commercial. When the chicken begins to stick to the pan, add enough white wine to sizzle the chicken loose and make a bit of sauce – about two glasses of white wine. Reduce by half, for taste and thickening. Add the chicken and juices to the onion mixture and lower the heat to medium. Add a bit more wine to the skillet and gently dissolve the brownings into the wine and add it to the main mixture. I thought it needed a bit of sweet and was lucky to find some syrup. About 3 or 4 tablespoons did the trick. So far, so good, but it lacked colour. Aw, hell, add some red wine until it looks right – a glass of that Sangiovese, please.

It was getting hot in the kitchen so I let it simmer while we hung out on the balcony overlooking the inviting swimming pool and talked about why it’s closed for the summer.

Time to eat. We lit the candles and served the chicken with potatoes and veggies. Oh yeah, and the wine.

Luxury.

A few hours of Fringe reruns in anticipation of the new season and my friends are off to bed. Not me, though. I’m staying up to enjoy the storm, watching the jagged bolts arc the sky reflected in the pool and listening to the deep sounds of boulders falling from heaven roll about the open desert. The bit a rain that was squeezed from the clouds evaporated in minutes.

The end of a perfect Vegas day.

Originally posted 2012-01-27 23:39:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 10, 2017 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Who Do, Voodoo?

A Quick, Fast Paced, Absorbing & Fun Murder Mystery

by Rochelle Staab
If you like magic of any kind you’ll love this wonderful romp around the underworld of hexes and spells.

Author Rochelle Staab (what a great name for mystery!) weaves old movies, restaurants and key streets of Hollywood into her story to make you feel like you are in the limelight; it made me want to get in my car and go see for myself.

The story revolves around a self-sufficient, non-believing psychologist, Liz Cooper, who is swept up in the world of magical mayhem when she tries to clear her best friend Robin Bloom, of murder. It seems everyone she meets in this well rounded cast becomes involved in the deadly game of getting to the source of the danger first, before another life is lost. In the process our snarky, sexy female-lead meets up with Nick Garfield, a witty college professor and occult specialist, to get to the truth – fast! And, yes; he’s sexy, too!

This supernatural suspense is a fascinating insight into the realm of unseen forces – forces that will have you turning its pages to the unforeseeable end.

I loved it!

Originally posted 2012-03-24 15:09:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 10, 2017 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

Bruja Brouhaha

Curses, and Murders, and Lies – Oh My!

by Rochelle Stabb

Rochelle Staab’s “Bruja Brouhaha” is a fast paced romp around LA with Liz Cooper who is trying to solve a mystery while squeezing in some real day-to-day living. Sandwiched between house hunting and buying pastries she has her hands full sorting out the dastardly deeds being heaped on the residents of Westlake. You see, her friend Lucia Rojas is a witch… a practioner of Santeria, and has just hexed the neighbourhood in her grief.

As hellacious as our lives can be, there’s always opportunity for humour and creativity and these characters are no different – easy to see and easy to believe, it’s easy to get sucked into their world. Bruja Brouhaha is thoroughly delightful!

Originally posted 2013-03-22 22:06:18. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 9, 2017 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

Really Expensive Wine

I just read a blog by Brian Clegg about

Brian Clegg a  book titled “The Billionaire’s Vinegar”. Yes, it’s about wine – very old and ancient wine.

Though not having read it, yet (it’s new on my TBR list, so it’s fairly far down), I am intrigued by the blog’s information regarding the possible fakery of such expensive sale items. Some of these bottles have apparently gone for as much as $100,000!! It would make sense that some brave entrepreneur would try to fake a few.

Billionaires Vinegar But what do you do with a $100,000 bottle of wine?

You drink it, silly! Lordy, introduce me to the guys who spend their money like that!

Now you and I both know that if wine is left out overnight, it tastes like vinegar. If the cork is tainted by TCA, the wine can be ruined, or ‘corked’.

Here’s my question to all you fabulously wealthy wine connoisseurs: How do you know the wine in that aged container is still wine and not vinegar? How do you know it’s not rebottled table wine? How do you know it will be worth the expense?

The only answer I can possibly accept is, “I’m a speculator.”glass of wine

Ahhh, the romance of a gambler who prefers a  candlelight tasting to a Vegas poker table – give me that any day. These are individuals in no need of a wash-board stomach or a tan. All they need to get my attention is to invite me for a glass!

Tense, excited, sitting in anticipating as the sommelier opens the bottle… one wonders – what will they pair with this enigma?

Originally posted 2012-02-26 16:44:34. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 8, 2017 - Blog, Wine    No Comments

What’s with this Wine Pairing Thing?

First, let me say I’m not a big fan of shellfish, but when the vintner suggested pairing crab and Cupcake Chardonnay on the back of the bottle, I had to try.

See, I’m a bit new to the pairing table. I used to just drink wine with whatever I was eating, taking little notice of the age old ‘rule’ of white with fish, red with meat. I am a Californian, after all.

So, back to the bottle; “Serve chilled cupcake chardonnaywith crab cakes, seared Ahi tuna on waffle crackers or fresh baked French bread and cheese” says the back label of my 2010 Cupcake chardonnay. Initially, I wondered just how dedicated they were to actual pairing, as everyone and their grandmother knows about the cheese thing, even if cheese is the number one taste eliminator of subtle flavours.

Mulling it over I decided I liked the company’s attempt at educating its interested drinker’s with these mini menus. Great idea!

Some of you may know that I’ve been flirting with Cupcake for weeks now, and though I’ve enjoyed it with many dishes, for some reason the exoskeleton proposal stuck in my mind… you don’t think it could have anything to do with my arachnophobia, do ya?

Naaah…

Today I finally had enough nerve. I bought pre-made frozen crab cakes and fried them in a tiny bit of olive oil until crispy. Added a salad and took the first bites accompanied with the chardonnay.

I think I get it… I see what they mean; the delicate blend of distinct flavours of the Cupcake, being fruity to start with and a long woody finish, were not overpowered by the Trader Joe’s Maryland crab cakes. The crab flavour, which as I said I’m not crazy about, was actually improved by the wine. Much like sniffing coffee beans between perfumes or ‘cleansing’ ones palette with pickled ginger before another bite of sushi, the chardonnay made it possible to get through the meal. Imagining what this pair would be like to someone who truly liked crab, I can testify that the flavours accentuated each other. The verdict? The wine was the best part of the pair.

salad_poached_eggI’m trying the tuna next, though probably without the crackers. A mixed green salad complete with a five minute egg on top, sliced open to drool out like a Hawaiian volcano is more my style.

But for those of you not in love with seafood or fish, please, be my guest and move on to the cheese!

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Originally posted 2012-01-26 22:58:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Jul 8, 2017 - Blog, Books I Read    No Comments

The Dark Vineyard

Intrigue in Wine Country

by Martin Walker

I love Bruno. Bruno is the Chief of Police in St. Denis, France. Why do I love him? He’s a sweetie-pie, a great chef, he loves wine, always gets him ‘man’, and is apparently, pretty good in bed. Every novel needs a plot, and Martin Walker always serves up a huge bad guy, but frankly I love the series because of the characters… and the insider information about vineyards, French food, and history – all of which are my favourites : ) Anyone who loves France, or just a good ol’ detective novel will enjoy these books.

In this, the second in the series, we get an insight into the problems of the “little people” (in this case French wine makers of the Dordogne region) being swallowed up by big business. If it’s not done with finesse, it hurts everybody, and murder only complicates things.

Originally posted 2012-10-19 01:13:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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