Book Review: Death By Chocolate Lab

I know, another cozy mystery. What can I say, people keep writing them. Death by Chocolate Lab by Bethany Blake is the first in a new series. That usually doesn’t bode well but in this case was completely adorable.

Daphne is a wandering soul. She is currently crashing with her financially successful older sister while she walks dogs and pet sits to try to keep a few dollars of gas in her old van. Daphne is quirky and amusing. She has fun friends, including her basset hound Socrates, who is written as though he interacts. It’s hard to describe but quite entertaining.

As per usual, someone unpleasant is killed. The list of possible suspects is long but Daphne’s sister heads the list and so Daphne springs into action to figure out the murderer before her sister gets arrested. It doesn’t hurt that the new cop in town is smokin hot.

℘℘℘℘℘ – Technically five pages, as I did read it in one day. However, that might have been due to the kiddo being sick. It was a good read though and I will grab the next one in the series when it comes out. So let’s say 4 and a 1/2 pages.

Sunday Sup: Grilling it up

I have to give credit to the basis of this meal to my friend G. She serves something very close to this every time we go to her place and I LOVE it so much, I started making my own.

Thinly slice a red onion and a red bell pepper. Begin to saute over LOW in the fat of your choice, I like butter for this one. Stir occasionally as they cook for 20 minutes or more, til soft and golden brown.

Slap a some steak on a grill. I use about a pound and an indoor grill but really scale this up or down anyway you like.  I grill at 350, five minutes each side, rotating on both sides for that lovely cross hatch effect. Medium rare, when it’s done.

While the steak is cooking, start defrosting a pound of large shrimp, fresh is awesome if you got it but frozen works just fine in this recipe.

In the mean time, steak is still cooking, shrimp defrosting, make some fresh guac.

When the steak is done, pull it off the grill and tent it with metal foil until you are ready to serve.

Throw the shrimp on the grill. Two minutes per side should give them a nice opaque color and a bit of grill mark.

While that’s cooking, open a bag of slaw mix, bowl it, and squeeze 1-2 limes over the top. Toss.

When the shrimp are done, bowl them, then squeeze a lime over the whole mess and give a healthy shake of Chile Lime seasoning salt.

Slice the steak.

Add any topping you might like as well. Sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips on the side if you dairy and grain.

Assemble: slaw salad, sauteed veggies, meat, guac, etc.

This recipe scales easily. More steak, less steak, sub chicken, no shrimp, anything goes. Just remember to add onions and peppers as needed, the one and one is for the base meat amounts I mention, so be sure up them if you change the meat.

 

Fiendish Friday: Commercials

Last week the kiddo was sick. That translated into lots of hours on the couch watching HGTV. What can I say, we both like renovation shows. Anyway, I saw the new HUM commercials like 400 times each. There are two of them. And they both drove me mad.

Commercial A) Family returns from vacation, close up on Dad looking forlornly for car in airport parking. Mom pulls out cell phone and uses GPS on HUM to find car.  “Follow me boys.” And they all traipse after her like little sheep.

That was cute, the first time.

Commercial B) Check engine light comes on in the car. Family, mom driving, pulls over. Dad gets out to look under the hood. Mom rolls her eyes and calls HUM. They tell her it’s the oxygen censor and that she can drive on home, then get it checked out. Mom tells Dad who says, I need my tools. Cue two girls in the back seat rolling eyes at Dad too.

This one rubbed me wrong from the get go. Sure it looks like a cute little commercial about how clueless men are. In fact, both play on that fact. Men are clueless. Women are the smart savvy ones who know to install technology so they can have more super powers. Yay women!

But let’s look a little deeper. We have slid into a culture where men occupy two roles.

A) demonic oppressors of women and minorities everywhere

B) clueless bumbling idiots

Neither are a true, complete picture. Both are damaging to the functionality of society as a whole and healthy organism. In both, the children are being taught not to respect their father. Mom lumps Dad in with the kids in the first one. Mom rolls her eyes at Dad in the second careful to make eye contact with the children in the back seat first. She’s saying in effect, “Your father is less than and I want you to know I think that. It’s ok for you to think that too.”

I am sure I would have missed most of this, if I hadn’t seen the commercials 400 times each in 4 days. But I did see them. And it gave me the opportunity to really look at the way in which men are being portrayed. The way women are treating them. They way women are teaching their children to treat their fathers, with contempt.

I love my hubs and my kiddo way too much to stand idly by while a society is built that demonizes them for their penises. Neither chose it. They were born that way. It has zero impact on whether they are good people. It is a physical feature. And it’s not ok to judge anyone by their physical features in my world. Popular idea or not, everyone deserves to be seen for their whole selves, even men.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Words 8.9

Has this ever happened to you? You finish writing, editing, and fine tuning a piece…all that is left is the last double checking, whatever your process for that might be. And then while you’re walking your dog (running on your tread mill) thinking about the next piece you are about to write that day….you realize you forgot to wrap up a thread in your story. Maybe it’s a minor thread. Maybe the fact that it is dangling has no baring on the any of the plots. Maybe no one would even notice but you….but somehow the idea that a character of yours is walking around with duct tape holding a knife wound closed rubs you the wrong way.

Oh well. There’s still time to bring in a doctor.

I spent a bit of time with my old mystery this week. I had planned to cut a chapter and reword it as an entry for the SIWC competition but I can’t tell if it’s working.

I wrote a new short for the scary anthology. I have no idea if it’s even scary. LOL.

Sigh. At least I’m working forward.

Book Review: A is for Arsenic

A is For Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Markup is pure geek. Seriously. This book is exactly what it says it is and I love that.

Markup takes 14 poisons A.C. uses and breaks it all down. How the poison actually works, who discovered it and by what process, known antidotes and when they became available, what A.C. would have known at the time she was writing, real cases of murder by the poison that may have influenced A.C. and cases clearly influenced by A.C.

Scientific geek combined with total love for Agatha Christie. sigh. I was in heaven.

I will share one bit. There are a number of verified cases where a person reading A Pale Horse, recognized the symptoms of thallium poisoning from the book, and was able to apply them to someone in their life, get the person to hospital, and tell the doctors it’s thallium poisoning….and it was…and the friend or family member lived because of it. Now that’s making a difference with your writing. Damn.

This book is hard to rate. I loved it and would give it a solid Five Pages. But if you are note a science geek and a huge A.C. fan, this book will not charm you. So be forewarned.

Sunday Sup: Go to Summer Brunch

We finally started hitting some 80s. Woohoo. Late July so it makes sense summer is finally arriving. When it’s warm like this, humid too, I don’t eat too early in the day. I drink coffee for a while but brekkie usually becomes brunchie or lunchie in the summer. So here’s what Ive been mixing up for about a week straight now. LOL

Go To Summer Brunch

1 can chunk chicken, drained. (12oz)

1/3 c Greek yogurt, plain

1 celery stalk, chopped small

1/2 an apple or 6 slices, chopped

1/4 c slivered almonds

Stir til combined. This is not a particularly wet mixture because I find the apple and the avocado take care of that but feel free to add as much greek yogurt as you like. What’s this about avocado you say? Well, I finish off my salad with a few friends.

Baby spinach and sliced avocado. Enjoy!

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Fiendish Friday: Constraints

I think of you often. Yes, you, all of you. I’ll be reading a book or driving about and something will cross my mind and I think I should totally post about that, readers would find it funny.

But then the constraining naysayer kicks in. Maybe you shouldn’t tell them that. What if someone reads that posts and misconstrues it? Gulp. What if that friend who never reads your blog picks today to read it? Gulp. What if that funny little post unleashes a shit storm? Gulp.

That’s me swallowing all the things I decide not to say. I do it in real life too. Say only that which is kind and helpful. Swallow down that which is cranky, snippy, or dismissive, that which might hurt.

But sometimes I have the mad urge to just say all the things I never say.

“hey mother fucker don’t flip me off in front of my kid because you decided to break the law and I almost hit you.”

“Don’t you have anything more important to do than spend all day bitching about politics on Facebook. Go out and and make actual change in the world.”

“I don’t care what you think about how we are running the coop; you would never take any real responsibility while you were here, caused nothing but issues with vendors, and then you left to put your daughter in private school. Don’t call and explain how much we are ruining everything.”

Actually I see a trend here. The one I really want to shout, every time I turn around,

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOURSELF

Next week a feel good rant, I promise. Or at least one that will make you laugh.