Sunday, March 23, 2008

Viets, Spiderwick, and herbs, colds and recipes

Went to B&N, and picked up a few books. Sadly, I've already finished two, and scanned through another. This is why I do not have a TBR (To Be Read) pile, although I do have a TBF/R list.

Before I list the books I've just finished, I should mention that Annie's fifth birthday was today, so I went to the pet store & picked up some cat toys for her. Da Bird was a hit, but the other toys were treated with great catly suspicion. She'll come around. ;) Annie has Bridie's birthday, since all I knew about her when I adopted her at six months of age was that and nothing else.

Ok, so Accessory to Murder by Elaine Viets (Penquin, Obsidian Mystery) is as always fun to read. I wouldn't class this as a cozy, exactly, but it is not a hard-boiled book either. This is one from her mystery shopper series, and Josie is as fun as ever; quirky, sarcastic, hardworking, and a single mom. This particular book takes Josie to an high end boutique where a scarf costs $1,000 and two very different shoplifters (one caught in the act, one suspected) are arrested. This is just the start as all sorts of mayhem, murders, etc. take place. At the end, there are always shopping tips, especially on how to find high quality designer items at not-so-designer prices. What I liked best about this book was the interplay between characters, the underlying theme of friendship (what's real and what's not). Viets has a good plotting mind and a good eye for people & their foibles. (p278, including a forthcoming chapter for the next book)

Up next, the 2nd book in the Spiderwick Chronicles. This one is called the Seeing Stones and DiTerlizzi and Black are the two co authors. The books are very brief & are small books, strongly plot driven, with a good fantasy blend. This one concerns a disappearing cat, goblins that are raiding the house, some derring-do on the part of Mallory & Jared, who have to rescue Simon. As for the Seeing Stones, all is revealed in the book. (p.108)

Last but not least, The Herb & Spice Companion, which I got for under 7 dollars. It is by Marcus Webb, and is a beautifully illustrated guide to herbs; how to grow, what they're used for in cooking, and also lists spices. In the very end, it lists some teas & such to make with spices, one of which is exactly the same as my Grandma's Ginger Tea, for digestive complaints. Hers was one teaspoon ground ginger with 3 tablespoons of sugar. Believe me, you need the sugar, for Ginger tea is pretty fierce and you will also get very hot after drinking it. Webb's book says "1/2 tsp dried ginger powder into hot milk, and hadd 1 tsp honey. This is a warming drink to reduce the symptoms of a cold." This will be useful as an overall resource for herbs, herb growing, and use of thereof. Or therefore? :)

The Oven Roasted Almond Chicken recipe is fun to make (and I'm making another set for the week ahead... handy to have on hand for salads, etc.)

2 pounds chicken breast, and grind together some natural almonds, a slice of whole grain bread (I used Ak Mak crackers & used two slices of that only), a good dash of garlic powder, 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, plenty of black pepper, a tsp of crushed rosemary, dash of parsley & dash of basil (to taste), and a 1/2 c. of parmesan cheese, grated.

Grind all that together (I use my Magic Bullet, which is handy for small jobs like this one), and after defrosting your chicken breasts, dab them into olive oil, rub well into the ground up almonds (etcs), plop into a baking pan and put into a 400 degree oven for 1/2 hour. This is a South Beach recipe & I really like it. Could probably give it even more zip by putting some lemon zest in the ground almonds and possibly marinating it in lemon juice for a bit.

Happy Easter everyone.

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