Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Collecting The Dead

 

I have found a new series to love.  I read the second book first, which is usually a mistake. Then I went back and read the first one in the FBI Special Tracking Unit Series.  It is Collecting The Dead by Spencer Kope.

In this new and exciting series Magnus "Steps" Craig has special abilities that enable him to see where people have been.  A traumatic event in his childhood left him with synesthesia.  This is when one sense is felt by another sense, such as seeing colors invokes a taste.  Yellow may taste like lemon, for example.  For Steps, he can see the tracks or touch of people as a particular color and texture.

This sense can be overwhelming, so he has to wear special glasses to block the streaks and splotches of neon color taking over his field of vision.

But this special power can help him in tracking the lost child and even the tracks of a serial killer.  Each person has a specific color, so Steps is able to determine immediately if a dead body is the result of a serial killer, assuming he has seen the tracks on another body.  He has to pretend to find actual clues, so that he isn't considered a nut and his evidence gathering isn't dismissed.  A Special FBI Tracking Unit has been established so that Magnus and his partner, Jimmy Donovan can fly out to a murder or abduction that fits into their skill set.

Not only is this new series fascinating because of this unusual team, but Spencer Kope is a fabulous writer.  He gives you insight into the characters and the toll this job takes on them.  His books have moments of great tension, but they also has a lot of humor.   One example is a line that hit too close to home for me, " It's not that I am in bad shape, I can run ten miles with the best of them; I just prefer to do it a half mile at a time with twenty-four-hour breaks in between."

The second book in this series is Whispers Of The Dead.  It is also a wonderful book.  I probably read 50 to 100 mysteries in any given year, so when I recommend a book you should believe me. Read this series.  I can't wait for the third one.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Fresh Peach Cobbler

My favorite orchard store, Bryant Orchards, now has fresh peaches.  They are the best.  My summer of making peach SOMETHINGS has begun. I decided on a cobbler.  Usually with a cobbler you place the fruit in a baking pan and dot or cover the top with the topping for a cobbler.  This is a bit different.   For this cobbler I placed fruit on the cake mixture.

I made a 9X13 baking dish but you can halve the recipe for an 8X8 pan of dessert.

  

Fresh Peach Cobbler

4 cups peeled and sliced peaches
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1 cup flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup milk

  

Preheat the oven to 375˚.

 

Mix the peeled and sliced peaches with the 1 cup of sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl.  Add the cinnamon and baking powder and stir to combine.

  

Place them in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat until the sugar is all melted and the peaches are so juicy!

  

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.

  

Add the milk and whisk until just combined.

  

Pour the melted butter into the baking dish.

  

Top the butter with the cake batter and then gently place the peaches evenly on top.

  

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the cake rises to the top and browns.  Remove from the oven and place on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.

  

Serve by itself,

  

or even better, with a very large scoop of vanilla ice cream.

  

What could be better than fruit, cake and ice cream!


Friday, June 15, 2018

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Two different restaurants I have checked out recently had lemon ricotta pancakes on their breakfast menu.  What do you mean you don't check out menus before you go to a new restaurant?  Those pancakes sounded good, but something I could make myself.  So I ate a different breakfast and decided to make those delicious pancakes at home.

Only the tastiest recipes get on my blog, so you can assure yourself these are worth making.  I made them with a blueberry sauce.  But we also ate these pancakes with regular pancake syrup.  The addition of some crispy bacon made for a delightful meal.  I made them for dinner, because it is fun to have breakfast for dinner!

  

Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

4 eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon sugar, divided use
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus a bit more for the egg whites
1 cup ricotta
1 large lemon
1/2 cup milk

oil for cooking

  

Blueberry Sauce, optional

4 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water, divided use
1 Tablespoon corn starch

  

It takes awhile for the blueberry sauce to cook, so start that first.  Put the berries, sugar, and 1 Tablespoon water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer until the berries have burst and the juice has started to thicken.  If it isn't as thick as you'd like and you're ready to serve the pancakes, mix the remaining Tablespoon of water with the corn starch in a small bowl and add to the berries.  Stir until thickened, then remove from heat.

  

Whisk the flour, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a small bowl.  Set aside.

  

Separate the eggs.  Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and the yolks in a large bowl.

  

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt.  As it is mixing, add the 1 Tablespoon sugar. Continue mixing until the egg whites form stiff peaks.  Set aside.

  

Whisk the yolks with 1/3 cup of sugar.  When the sugar is dissolved, zest the whole lemon, making sure you only get the yellow part.  Squeeze the lemon to get the juice.  You'll need about 3 Tablespoons, which is roughly what I was able to get from one large lemon.  Add the zest, juice and the ricotta to the yolk mixture.  After blended, add the milk and whisk that in.

  

Add the flour mixture and gently mix it in.  Fold in half of the egg whites.

  

Then fold in the other half of the egg whites.

  

Be very gentle with them.  You don't want to mix out all the air you so carefully beat in.  Don't worry if there are lumps.

  

Heat the griddle, put a bit of oil on it and spread it all over with a spatula.  My griddle is electric and I set it at 350ยบ.  I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup to pour batter onto the hot griddle.

  

Cook until bubbles form on top and turn gently. Cook another 2-3 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned.

   

Serve with butter and syrup or the blueberry sauce, if you chose to make it.

  

We tried the pancakes with syrup and with the blueberries. They were really good both ways!  But if you have the blueberries, You should totally make the blueberry sauce.  It is seriously good.

  

The pancakes were light and fluffy and the lemony flavor really came through.  You could even taste the lemon with the blueberries and the combination was soooo good.  I highly recommend this dish.

  

Just note.  You will have blue teeth.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Royal Wedding Tea

I discovered Harney and Sons teas while staying in a fabulous B&B in Charleston.  My new favorite tea is their Hot Cinnamon Spice.  Lee found their website and surprised me by buying a large package of their sachets.  I need my coffee in the morning, but I drink tea all afternoon.

  

I finished the first bag of tea and Lee ordered me some more.  On their site he noticed they were carrying Royal Wedding Tea to join the celebration of the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel.

This is a white tea, which is the least processed of all teas. It is loaded with antioxidants and provides many health benefits.  You can read about white tea here.

  

Royal Wedding Tea is a blend of white tea, with rose petals, blue cornflower, and marigold petals.  It has natural almond, coconut and vanillas flavors.  The tea has a wonderful scent, almost a chocolate flavor and smell.  It is quite nice and I really enjoy it.

It has been quite warm recently and I thought I would try making iced tea out of the wedding tea.  After all, we live in the South and we are all about the iced tea.

  

I put water that was almost boiling in a large heat proof container.   I used a one quart Pyrex measuring cup because of the pouring lip.  I placed six sachets in the hot water for about 5 minutes.  You don't want to leave them in longer than that. Tea can get bitter if it is left in the water for a long time.

While the water is still hot, add any sweetener you may like.  It isn't necessary, but the flavors really pop with some sugar.  I used Splenda.  Don't make it super sweet, unless you are one of those sweet tea types, but too much will overpower the delicate flavors of this tea.

When the sugar (or your favorite sweetener) has dissolved and the tea has cooled a bit, pour it over a 2 quart pitcher mostly full of ice.

  

This tea is a delicate and refreshing tea and strangely perfect for iced tea!  East meets South!!

  

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Giant Bird House

The last couple of mornings, we have gone out the garage to get the paper and found a bird trapped inside the garage.  We open the doors and EVENTUALLY it will fly out.

  

But first it has to leave a lovely parting gift on my car.

  

We started wondering why a bird would keep flying in after such a traumatic experience.

  

We searched all the higher spots in the garage and look what we found.

  

I hope the eggs are still viable after we the times we have locked the garage when we leave on various excursions.

  

We recently replaced a rotting bird house with this one.

  

I guess we didn't get it up in time for this particular bird tenant.

  

For the next week or two we will have to leave the garage open.  And hope the bird is grateful enough to quit leaving her questionable gifts.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Feeling Entitled

So...What's for breakfast?

  

Nothing???

  

Well, that's disappointing.

Friday, June 1, 2018

"T" is for Organization

I have a bin on a shelf in my pantry for tea and coffee.  The problem is I don't like just one brand or flavor. I also like to keep a selection for guests.  This makes for a messy bin that I paw through to find the tea I want at any given time.

  
 
I saw a random post about organizing tea and decided that was a great idea.  It was super easy and quick and I love the way it looks, now.

You'll need a small storage bin and some Ziploc bags.

  

Cut the front off a tea box so that you can see the type and flavor of the tea.  Place the label and the tea bags in a Ziplock bag.  Arrange the bags so they are straight and in two even rows.

  

Fold down the top of the Ziploc bag and place it in the storage bin

Repeat with all the boxes of tea.

  

Now I can find the tea I want or pull out the bin and offer it to guests.

So neat!  So tidy! So satisfying!