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Dear Ol’ Dad


By Gini Rainey

This is that day in June that is set aside to honor the paternal influence in our lives.  While I honestly feel we should honor and respect our parents every day of the year, it really is nice to set aside a special time to show them our love.  Whether you’ve had a good or not so good relationship with your father, it sure doesn’t hurt to take the time to reflect on that relationship, and if your dad is still living you have the time to improve that bond.  If your dad is no longer with you, take a few moments – or even longer – to sort out your feelings and
remember the good times and try to move past the not so good ones.

My father died when I was eleven, and while the time together was painfully short, I am blessed with so many good thoughts of him that my sister says I’ve made a saint out of him.  When I remember my dad, I think about an incredibly musically gifted guy, who tended to do some pretty goofy things that would make me laugh.  Maybe that was his job – to help me find the humor in life and living – because I try to find humor in just about everything.

My Dad owned a tavern in Moorhead, Minnesota, and while he might not have been around the house a whole lot in the evenings and on Sundays, he made up for it in so many ways.  He love to fish, and on his days off in the summer, we would load up the old ’49 Ford and head to a lake where he could wet his line, his whistle, and spend time with his girls – my mom, my sister, and me.  Dad was a gagster, and he was always looking for a way to make people laugh, while embarrassing my mother along the way.  He loved to sit at the piano, play a little boogie woogie or jazz and fill the house up with music.  There wasn’t an instrument he couldn’t play. He was kind, gentle, and loving and took care of his family the best he knew how.  Even though we didn’t have much money, we never went without.  And yes, I probably have made a saint out of him, but what a blessing it is to reflect on the good and forget the bad.

Another thing that Dad loved to do was crank up the old barbeque grill and cook outside.  Although he didn’t explore much more than hot dogs and hamburgers, there was nothing
better than sitting out in the back yard and watching dad flip those patties.  So, in honor of my Dad, I am taking a look at the Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Barbecue Recipes, and while the art of BBQ has advanced considerably since Dad was around, this book can give you the low-down on some good, old fashioned outdoor cooking.  What is it about dads and BBQing?  As I write this, my husband is smacking down some ground chuck into patties that he will flip on the grill later today!

Part of a series created by Better Homes and Gardens Books and published in 1977, this skinny little book has a bunch of great grilling and smoking recipes.  Complete with a chart of grilling temperatures and times, if you’ve not tried outdoor grilling, this book would definitely be an asset to your collection if you are looking for the basics.  It covers everything from beef, ham, pork, poultry, fish and seafood to recipes for sides to go along with your meat.  If you like to marinade your meat before grilling, there are several recipes that will make you a star in the backyard!  If your standard fair for the grill has been hamburgers and hotdogs, you might want to branch out and try your luck with a Lemon-Marinated Chuck Roast, an Onion-Stuffed Steak, or a Steak and Shrimp Kabob Dinner.  I’m telling you, why heat up your kitchen this summer when you can get dad to fire up the grill!

One of my favorite recipes happens to be Chicken Teriyaki.  It’s delicious and easy – win – win!  Start out with 4 skinless chicken breast halves and cut in half again, then put them in a 9×12 glass pan.  Then mix together ½ cup brown sugar, ½ cup soy sauce (I use Kikkoman because it isn’t as salty as other brands), and 1 teaspoon of garlic powder and pour it over the chicken breasts.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, turning the breasts every half hour or so.  Reserve the marinade and then grill them over medium heat for 20-25 minutes, basting frequently with the reserved marinade.  Served with grilled corn on the cob and summer squash, you’ve got one heck of good summer time meal that’s incredibly easy and yummy.  Oh, and by the way, if you still can, invite your dad over to enjoy it with you.  You won’t regret it.

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Reading the Kids Back to School

ben wheeler

By Gini Rainey

“Mischief and Mayhem: Part I of the Faerlands Chronicles”

by S. D. Nicholson

I think you know me by now to know that magical kingdoms and fantasy are not the usual genre of reading that I reach for.  So, when I was approached by the author’s publicist to read and review this book, I wasn’t even aware it fell into this area.  With that being said, I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed and been intrigued by the characters and tiny world that Mr. Nicholson has created in his first book.  Without a doubt, the main character, the tiny fae Ophelia, is every bit a heroine as are her six-foot tall counterparts.

I have no doubt in my mind that while the faes and faers of Nicholson’s book are In a struggle to preserve and maintain peace in their homeland, it is also analogous to the struggles we humans face on a daily basis while trying to attain a peaceful coexistence with the other inhabitants of this big blue marble.

The not so terribly hidden messages in Nicholson’s book came through loud and clear to me:  that if we spend quiet time by ourselves, we will be able to find and explore fully what our capabilities are, and additionally, fight for what we hold near and dear.  This is an outstanding read.  Not only will it capture your imagination, but it will also have you start thinking about what undeveloped talents and truths you might not have discovered about yourself.

I read the teaser at the end of the book and am anxious to read Part 2 of the Faerlands Chronicles!

5 of 5 – Copyright 2019 – Köhler Books

“Big Little Lies”

by Liane Moriarty

This book from which the HBO series starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman was adapted, is a pretty slow starter.  Working backwards from an event, the first third of this book was busy building strong characters, exposing bullies (adult-sized and pint-sized), failed and new relationships, and various points of view about the culmination of events.  As usual, Ms. Moriarty isn’t afraid to cooly broach hot topics: blended families, sexual assault, violence against women and children, all carefully tempered with unexpected humor and human emotions.

Set in a rather cliquish, upper-end Australian beach community, the human interests begin to develop by retrospect following a murder at the exclusive private school.  Liane develops some pretty interesting characters using her very successful skills and creating some of the most flawed people this side of Sidney.

Definitely worth the read for anyone with school-aged children as it brings together three moms whose only commonality is their kindergarten-aged children. While pointing out each of the character’s flaws, Moriarty gently has a couple of fingers pointing at the helicopter-parenting skills of modern-day moms that perhaps are creating our current crop of young adults who are clueless.

Without a doubt, this is yet another in a long stream of controversial topics that Liane Moriarty isn’t afraid of writing about and the plot twist at the end will keep you reading till the final page.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2014 – Berkley

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A Good Pounding!


By Gini Rainey

Good grief, that’s exactly what I deserve.  I have been so over-whelmed with life in the past few months – okay, this year – that I have neglected to do what I love doing – writing!  So, apparently it took an email to our editor/publisher to get me off high center.  She forwarded this email to me on June 24th and it comes from an editor named Jess Miller who just happens to be associated with  Jen Reviews is the authority on everything food, fitness and home and has been featured in some mind-blowing (my mind, anyway!) publications such as Forbes, Fast Company, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Greatist, Reader’s Digest, MindBodyGreen, Livestrong, Bustle, Lifehacker, Wikihow, and oh my goodness, many many more. 

Jess email says “I was doing research on pound cake recipes and just finished reading your wonderful blog post: In that article, I noticed that you cited a solid post that I’ve read in the past:  We just published a delicious cranberry pound cake with orange glaze recipe complete with step-by-step pictures and detailed instructions. It is completely free and you can find it here:  If you like the recipe we’d be humbled if you cited us in your article.” 

The gauntlet was thrown and I tried it.  I baked it last night and it is yummy.  Of course, knowing me, you know I have to pull in a cookbook of some sort, and for those of you out there who don’t know where the name “Pound Cake” comes from, I pulled out my earliest reference that I have, which is a replica of “American Cookery” written by Amelia Simmons in 1796. It’s really interesting to leaf through this book and try to read some of the recipes.  It is actually a photocopy of the original and along with various spots and stains, the letter “f” is used in place of the letter “s.”  Originally, a pound cake called for one pound of sugar, one pound of butter, one pound of flour, one pound or ten eggs, one gill of rose water and spices to your taste. (Hence pound cake!) We are told to watch it well (remember – wood burning stoves/ovens back then) It will bake in a slow oven in 15 minutes. 

The recipe referred to by Jess is a bit different and perhaps produces a much lighter version than the 1796 version.  What you will need to do to make Jess’s recipe is to begin with a 350° pre-heated oven and a lightly greased and floured 12×4 inch loaf pan.  Then in a bowl, whisk together 1 ¾ cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon salt.  In another bowl, cream 9 ounces of softened butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon orange zest until light and fluffy.  Then slowly add in 4 eggs plus 2 yolks (at room temp), followed by 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar. Then alternating between the flour mixture and ¼ cup room temp milk, gradually add to the sugar/egg mixture.  Lightly dredge in flour 1 ¼ cups of washed and dried fresh cranberries (because fresh cranberries aren’t on the market at this time, I substituted rehydrated dried cranberries and I think they did well) and gently fold into the mixture.  Pour into the pan and bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  For the glaze, combine 2 cups of powdered sugar with 2 ½ tablespoons of fresh orange juice, and using a small spoon, drizzle over the completely cooled cake. 

This is one yummy cake – the unexpected tartness is a wonderful compliment to the buttery richness of the cake and would serve you well at a winter holiday meal – or even right now in the middle of the hot Texas summer along with a bowl of home-made ice cream! 

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