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Great Family = Good Times

By Gini Raineycookbook_junkie[1]

With tomorrow being the last day of October, you can be sure that it’s just a matter of a couple weeks before the great family times begin.  I did have an early holiday gift yesterday when I was fortunate enough to spend some quality time with two of my cousins.  The three of us spent many Sunday afternoons playing together while our parents either played bridge or pinochle.  There wasn’t too much trouble we were able to avoid in those days, given the level of trouble kids were able to get into back in the 50s.  I couldn’t help but think, as we were driving back home last night, that although many years have passed since we were kids, the dynamics among the three of us hasn’t changed much, and had one cousin not been laid up with a broken ankle, I do believe we could have stirred up some mighty good trouble again.

With conversations covering everything from each of us naming three books we have read recently (while frantically writing down the names so the others could read them, too), to how to dispose of Cock A Leekie Soup (I swear that’s real) so the aunties didn’t find out, to walking downtown in our bare feet (how did we manage to keep from cutting our feet), we laughed till we cried.  What an awesome time together!  And, while this was a wonderful time together, it saddens me to know that I’m not sure when we will have that opportunity again any time soon.

img_0624There were fourteen cousins in our generation, and while time and distance have separated us, when we are able to get back together, whether one or more or the whole bunch, it seems as if it was just yesterday that we were last together.  Somehow, we have managed to stay connected over the years, but damn – we’re not getting any younger.

On the occasion of one of our family reunions – way back in 1994 – I had a dream of writing a cookbook filled with contributed family recipes, along with the back history of that recipe.  Well, I got as far as the chapter on cookies by the time of the reunion, had it printed and bound and gave each cousin a copy of it at the reunion.  You see, some of the best times we’ve had in this family have happened in the kitchen, if not while cooking or eating, then during the cleaning up.  Many special plans have been made and many confidences shared while up to our elbows in either bread dough or soapsuds.

One of our favorite family cookie recipes is for Aunt Evie’s Corn Flake Cookies.  These are easy to make and freeze well, so you can get a head start on holiday baking.  First cream 2 cups sugar, 1 cup butter, and 2 eggs. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1 teaspoon baking soda, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder and 2-1/2 cups flour.  Then add 1 cup oatmeal, 1 cup corn flakes, 1 cup shredded coconut, and 1 cup raisins.  Form into balls, using about ¼ cup batter per cookie, and bake for 10-12 minutes in a 350° oven.  These are so good and will disappear so fast, you might want to make a double batch!


BOOK REVIEW: Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

stretford tyler tx

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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Book Review: “The Orphan’s Tale” by Pam Jenoff

“The Orphan’s Tale” by Pam Jenoff

by Gini Rainey

Note to Self: when times are different and strangely sad, as the Shelter In Place time for COVID-19 has been, it’s not very smart to read a book that is filled with sadness and desperation.  That’s how I felt while reading this book.  While it was a very interesting and well-written book, I found I could only manage a chapter or two at a time.  It wasn’t until I was well into it that I realized that it was not necessarily the isolation from SIP that was depressing me, but rather, it was quite possibly a combination of COVID and this book.

Set against the backdrop of a small traveling circus in western Europe during World War II, The Orphan’s Tale is rich with all the pain and angst you might imagine from that time.  While going back and forth between the perspectives of Astrid, the Jewish star trapeze artist who had been married to a Nazi officer, and her apprentice Noa, a Dutch girl who was turned out of her home when she became pregnant with the baby of a German soldier, Jenoff weaves a gritty tale so intriguing and earthy that you will be able to hear the cries of the baby and smell the sawdust of the Big Top.

Jenoff manages to, not only touch on the character’s intensity of feelings but also to touch parts of my mind and soul that I found myself completely absorbed by their feelings, too.  This is definitely a book well worth the read.

5 of 5 – Copyright 2017 – MIRA Books


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When Spirits Run Wild


By Gini Rainey

We are now into the ninth day of our Stay-At-Home Order and it doesn’t get any easier, folks. One thing I’ve determined though is that our house isn’t haunted, which is different from my business’s office, located in a 1945-vintage, one-time fire station for the city of Tyler. The previous owner, my former boss, bought the building in 1985 and renovated it, turning it into a car dealership. Unfortunately, the ghost didn’t get the memo. 

That boss, Jim, is an avid collector of all things baseball and fireman/fire station related and the office was pretty much a mini-museum with a ton of collectible of battery-operated trucks and cars. It wasn’t unusual for a lot of them to become activated on their own and that’s not even talking about the things that would go bump in the night. I can hear you skeptics out there right now shaking your heads and saying “no way!” But there came that day when we couldn’t take it anymore and went through all of the offices and removed all the batteries from all of the toys.  Guess what? Those ghosts didn’t need no stinking batteries! The sirens kept on going off! 

All of that changed – or so we thought – when my business partner and I bought the dealership from Jim and Jim and all of the toys moved out. Things were nice and quiet for a while until we noticed that the ceiling fan/light in Jim’s old office would turn on and off at will. We would notice it on – fan blowing full bore – turn it off – leave the room and come back later and it would be back on again.  Interesting folks, those dead firemen, so we just learned to live with them. But I was just thinking, ever since my business partner got a dog and started bringing him to work with him, the strange stuff has stopped happening. 

Which brings me to a very interesting and unique book “Beyond Delicious: The Ghost Whisperer’s Cookbook” written by Mary Ann Winkowski and David Powers and published by Clerisy Press in 2011. Ms. Winkowski, a paranormal investigator, has received some notoriety through her connection with CBS’s Ghost Whisperer and has met and conversed with hundreds of earthbound spirits. Her book is the result of several conversations with spirits in reference to, believe it or not, recipes given to her from those spirits. Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, this book is great reading and is half recipes and half the background behind the recipes. I promise, they will make your paranormal senses tingle! 

One such recipe for Cauliflower Soup was corrected from the afterlife by the spirit who had hand-stitched it on a set of kitchen towels while living. A lady had purchased them at a farmhouse estate sale and had contacted the author about some paranormal activity. While talking with the spirit, Ms. Winkowski learned she had not crossed over because she wanted to correct an error in the recipe for the Cauliflower Soup.  One of the ingredients was 2-3 eggs, but the spirit wanted the new owner to know it was supposed to read 2-3 egg yolks 

For a spirit-filled meal, here’s that recipe: Cook 1 medium cauliflower in salted boiling water until tender and reserve 6-8 flowerets. Then mash the rest, combine with 6 cups hot chicken stock and thicken with 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon butter that’s been stirred into a paste and diluted until smooth. Let simmer and beat 2-3 egg yolks with 1/2 cup cream and add to the cauliflower mixture a little at a time, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper and garnish with the reserved flowerets and croutons and chives. 

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