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Chicken Little or A Lot

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By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

Whether you’re ready or not, the next six weeks is coming down the tracks faster than a locomotive, and just in case you’ve forgotten (ha!) you have Thanksgiving Day, Hanukkah, and Christmas riding on that train!  While we know what all that entails, and no matter how much we plan and try to get things done in a timely fashion, before we know it we are totally over-whelmed by the long lists of everything we think we have to do!  So, wouldn’t it make sense to do some major simplifying in our lives so we could sit back and enjoy the holidays and our families?  You’d think that by now we would have figured it all out and how to do it, but yet, here it comes again – as regular as clockwork!

There’s this part of me that wants to do everything, have everyone over and enjoy the moment, but to be honest, since I am still working at least 8 to 10 hours a day, the other part of me just wants to find an easier and more efficient way to get things done.  So, planning ahead is really the way to go.  Last year I shared a lot of recipes and ideas that could help make life easier during the holidays.  Hopefully it worked for you, and if it did, let me help you out with a couple more great ideas for this year!

That soup recipe I shared with you last week for Pasta e Fagioli?  If you haven’t made it yet, go ahead and give it a shot and serve it for dinner.  Trust me – you will have a lot left over, so put the leftovers in a container and stow away in your freezer for dinner after one of those long, tiring days of shopping.  It doesn’t take much effort to thaw it out and warm it up on the stove top or recipesin the micro-wave, and it will save a lot of time for you and make you look fancy in front of your family as well!

A cookbook that should be a standard in most homes is “Best Recipes – From the backs of Boxes, Bottles, Cans and Jars” by Ceil Dyer.  This nearly 600 page book, published in 1993 by Galahad Books, is crammed full of all of the great recipes that have been featured on, you guessed it, the backs of boxes, bottles, cans and jars of some of the best known food brands around.  With this book you can benefit from the results of the test kitchens of the likes of Hershey, Campbells, Heinz, Uncle Ben’s, Ortega, Tabasco, and many, many more.

While flipping through all of the yummy recipes, I came across one for Wild Rice-Chicken Supreme that carries the legend “This is the recipe that convinced literally a million Americans that Uncle Ben’s© Long Grain and Wild Rice was indeed worth the price.”  While this recipe sounds great, I’m going to share my own version because, well, because I can!  While their recipe calls for the long grain/wild rice blend, I use all wild rice, mostly because I have a dear sister who blesses me annually with a couple pounds of it.

So, I start out with a cup of wild rice, well-rinsed, in a 2 quart saucepan, along with about 3 cups of water and 1 can of chicken stock and bring it to a boil. To that (you want the easy version, right?) add about 1/4 cup onion flakes and a couple of diced celery ribs. Reduce heat to medium and cook until rice is tender.  Don’t believe that stuff about it only takes 20 minutes to cook,  I’ve yet to have that be the case.  Keep an eye on the liquid level and if need be, add more water. Meanwhile, sauté about 8 ounces sliced mushrooms in a tablespoon of butter.  When rice is tender, drain and pour it back into the saucepan, along with the mushrooms.  Add salt and pepper to taste and pour into a 9 x 12 baking dish and place 4 boneless chicken breast halves on top.  Pour one can of cream of mushroom soup into a mixing bowl along with one soup can full of dry white wine and blend together.  Pour over the chicken/rice, cover with foil and bake for an hour in a 325° oven, removing foil for last 10 minutes.  Serve with a green salad and crusty french bread – and oh, wow!  Good stuff.  Helpful Holiday Hint?  Make it ahead and freeze for that busy day!

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Books

Book Review: “The Blue Cloak”

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By Gini Rainey

The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear

Set at the turn of the 18th century in Kentucky and Tennessee, The Blue Cloak is based on the true account of the Harpe family’s killing rampage along the Wilderness Trail.  McNear who is basically a Christian writer, struggled with the concept of the re-telling of such dynamically horrible events, but came to realize that this could become a story of redemption.

When Sally, the very young daughter of a Baptist preacher, marries the younger of the Harpe boys, many people have big misgivings about her choice of men, especially Sally’s best friend, Rachel. As Sally is leaving after the wedding festivities, Rachel hands her the gift of a packet that contains a beautiful indigo-dyed, woolen cloak. This cloak becomes a symbol of friendship, trust, and love throughout the book.

With an amazing skill for character development and research, McNear’s words succeed in weaving a tale filled with desperation, angst, deception, and ultimately forgiveness and love as the three Harpes, with their three communal women in tow, create murderous mayhem along the Wilderness Trail.

Although this book is not terribly long (255 pages) it is filled with more adventure and romance than books twice its length.  Definitely a page-turner, you might find yourself unable to put it down.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2020 – Barbour Publications

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BOOK REVIEW: Sentient Beings in the Kingdom of Bhutan

Sentient Beings in The Kingdom of Bhutan by Laurie S. Chambers

By Gini Rainey

Chambers, who has spent over fifty years traveling the world seeking to understand the complexity of being human, has written a lovely book about the peaceful kingdom of Bhutan.  Located in the Himalayan mountains, Bhutan’s people have formed a unique relationship with the animals sharing their space in this beautiful area.

While the cover might lead you to think this is a children’s book, it is filled with the complexity of human/animal relationships.  In a place where all living things matter, Chambers has managed to capture the beauty of both the sights and principles of the Bhutanese and subtly implores that we all take on these loving and caring and grateful people.

And don’t be mistaken, there are at least three levels presented in her book.  One that appeals to the seeker of truth and peace, one that encourages the young child to live a life of appreciation and love, and one that captures the eye of the seeker of visual beauty.  This is not a book to be read straight through.  Rather, it would be a wise and intelligent thing to read each page for its own merit and value and digest and internalize the message that each one has to offer.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Balboa Press

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BOOK REVIEW: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

By Gini Rainey

Imagine, if you will, a shack in the middle of the backwater marshes of the Atlantic Ocean in North Carolina.  The setting is as raw as the story that Owens tells about the abandonment and coming-of-age of young Kya.

Left behind by her entire family at the age of six, Kya learns more about life and survival in a short time than most people learn in a lifetime.

Ms. Owens’, no stranger to the publishing community having several books in print, paints a world full of wonder and discovery as Kya explores the beauty of nature around her as she struggles to stay alive.

Living on the edge of a community that neither helps her nor understands her, she grows into a beautiful, highly intelligent young woman with the help of a young boy who was a friend of her brothers.

Expertly building characters you will come to either love or despise, Ms. Owens laces Where the Crawdads Sing with a hint of physical abuse, romance, and murder.

Owens has created a book that has everything necessary to keep the reader turning the pages to the surprise ending.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2018 – G. P. Putnam’s Sons

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