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I’m Back!

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By Gini Rainey

After taking a bit of a sabbatical over the holidays, I am back to writing my weekly blog.  Because of elderly in-laws, a rotten cold, a bout with the flu, and two major holidays falling on my “writing” day, my discipline went smooth out the window.  As a result of all that, we were also just too worn out to try and host our annual Christmas Open House for our friends, so last night we had a few friends over for dinner and games.  I made a pot of Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup and cheddar garlic biscuits. This soup is one of my favorite recipes to make and take to friends who are under the weather.  It’s easy to make, very tasty, and fairly nourishing for those on the road to recovery.

Well, imagine my surprise when I was leafing through the cookbook that I chose for today’s blog entry that it has a recipe for Wild Rice Soup very close to the one I use!  Beach Appétit, published by the Junior League of The Emerald Coast, Inc. in 2004, was a birthday gift from my husband who wishes he could be on The Emerald Coast (Fort Walton Beach, Florida) during all of our cold weather.  This 224 page book, filled with some really amazing recipes, was a fund-raiser that helped to support a wide variety of community service projects primarily geared to improving the lives of women and children in the greater Fort Walton Beach area and have effectively made a difference in that community.

With menu ideas broken down into plan ahead and last minute suggestions, this book would be an excellent addition to anyone’s collection.  Running the gamut from soups and salads all the way to infusing vodka with cranberries, sectional breakdowns cover the cocktail hour, holidays, Grecian Heritage, Mardi Gras, romantic rendezvous, sunbathing with sangria, and reasons to celebrate, this book will have you covered!  While I do question making the roux for gumbo in a microwave, stuffing snow peas with a crab/celery/bell pepper mix, and Oysters Rockefeller using watercress instead of traditional spinach, I must admit the Crawfish Fettuccini, Filet Mignon with Rum Glaze, Crème Brûlée (with raspberries and strawberries), and Rum Apricot Tart definitely have intrigued me.

So while the book’s recipe for Wild Rice Soup is very close to mine, I want to share mine with you.  First, boil a chicken breast (or use two small cans of boneless chicken) until done, drain and cube.  Also, prepare a box of Uncle Ben’s© Long Grain and Wild Rice according to package directions and set aside.  Then, in a heavy Dutch oven, sauté 1 diced carrot, 1 diced stalk of celery, and ½ diced medium onion in 4 tablespoons of margarine.  Stir in 6 tablespoons of flour and gradually add 3 cups of chicken broth, 1 small can of evaporated milk, and 1 cup milk.  Over medium heat, stir mixture until it begins to thicken, being careful to not scorch.  Reduce heat and stir in the chicken, the rice, 1 small can of sliced or diced mushrooms (drained), ½ teaspoon of salt, ¼ teaspoon of pepper, ¼ teaspoon crushed basil, and a dash of paprika.  It’s ready to eat with the carrots are tender.  Serve with crusty French bread or cheddar/garlic biscuits.  This is an amazingly simple recipe, but will help you look like a pro in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

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

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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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