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Just A Little Bite on the Neck


By Gini Rainey

I was out recently with some friends drinking adult beverages when the topic of books came up.  It just so happened that my publisher – and good friend – was sitting next to me, punched me in the arm and said, “Hey, I think you should read this series of books for some of your reviews!”  I told her I was open to it, but cautiously added “Are you okay with the kind of books I review?” To which she told me I read too many books about death and dying.  Point taken!

So, while I wait for that list, I wandered into my “library” and the only book that screamed “Write about me!!!” was this fun little cookbook I picked up last fall.  “Love At First Bite: The Complete Vampire Lover’s Cookbook” that was written by M+W Media, was just quirky enough for me to add to my ever-growing collection of cookbooks.  With the cautionary on the cover of “Contains More Than 300 Suckulent Recipes,” other than some scrump-deliousious recipes, its claim to fame in my book is the unique twists on the names of the recipes.  This collection of “fangtastic food and drink will take you on a nightmarish culinary adventure you won’t soon forget.”

With catchy section names like Bits and Bites, Suckulent Soups and Stews, Sinful Seafood, Petrified Poultry, “Organ”ick Foods, Bloodless Buffet, Nocturnal Nibbles, and Liquid Lunches, the table of contents is sure to suck you right into a cooking/feeding frenzy, and that’s not all!  The section titles even have subtitles.  Bits and Bites goes one step further with the description “Appetizers to Leave Them Screaming for More.”  Seductive Sandwiches tells it like it is with “A Handful of Horros,” and Murderous Meats flogs the idea of “Flesh and Bones to Sink Your Teeth Into.”  And if that isn’t enough, there are tidbits about the undead scattered through to keep you from turning off the lights at night.

Who doesn’t love a good potato soup?  Well, we have here Vlad’s Vichyssoise, along with the Tasty Tidbit “Vlad the Impaler was the fourteenth-century ruler of Wallachia who became infamous for impaling his enemies on poles and famous in
Romania as a national hero.  Vlad Dracula was the inspiration for the name of Bram Stoker’s title character in the novel Dracula.  But don’t let that information keep you from trying the recipe.  A great thing about vichyssoise?  If you don’t care for a chilled soup, well then just warm it up and it’s just as good.

If you’d like to cook easy and eat hearty, why not make some vichyssoise for dinner tonight?  Or perhaps just some good ol’ rib stickin’ potato soup?  Vlad’s recipe is very close to my own, will share it with you and also what I do differently.  Peel and dice three medium size potatoes and boil in 2 cups water along with a diced leek – white part only (or one medium size onion) until tender.  Puree’ the leek/onion, potatoes, and water mixture in a blender.  Now add 1 cup heavy cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Chill thoroughly before serving.  To serve, thin out with a bit more cream, if necessary and garnish with chopped chives.   My recipe for potato soup is served hot.  When the potatoes and onions are fork tender, add the cream, salt and pepper, and 4 slices of American cheese. Stir tilled blended and serve.  I like to make home-made biscuits to serve alongside, but crackers are just as yummy.

So, I just noticed that perhaps this book leans a little bit towards death, and that I also reviewed “The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: Christmas in Tinsel Town” a month ago, but hey Tena, 2 out 4?  That’s not too bad!

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Reading the Kids Back to School


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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