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text 2018-12-10 20:56
24 Festive Tasks: Door 15 - St. Nicholas' Day / Sinterklaas, Task 3 (Holiday Treats)

Here's my assortment -- this year's edition:

 

The traditional Christmas-y stuff:

"Christstollen" (Christmas loaf cake), "Printen" (spicy, crunchy gingerbread bars), "Frankfurt Bethmännchen" (round marzipan and almond cookies), "domino cubes" (chocolate-coated cubes filled with gingerbread mass, chocolate and jelly), and chocolate-coated almond gingerbread cookies

 

-- and the not-necessarily-Christmas-y-but-melt-in-your-mouth-sinfully-delicious stuff: white chocolate and crushed almond tartuffi (pralines) and dark chocolate pralines (both Italian)

 

... and a chocolate Santa, and two snowmen wearing chequered scarves and red winter bonnets, just because!

 

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review 2018-12-10 00:16
24 Festive Tasks: Door 7 - Mawlid, Book
Candy Cane Murder - Leslie Meier,Laura Levine,Joanne Fluke,Suzanne Toren

Well, let's just say that none of these three ladies is anywhere near Donna Andrews's league when it comes to cozy mysteries, plotting, character creation, dialogue, and a writer's craft in general.  And if I thought Joanna Fluke's entry was disappointing (mediocre plotting and dialogue, character responses that felt forced / didn't make sense, and one of my no-go TSTL behavior tropes as the "big reveal" cue (though I have to hand it to Fluke, the setting and overall scene of the final confrontation with the murderer was inspired)), I'm sorry to have to say that Leslie Meier's contribution did even less for me -- you could scratch off the Hallmark sugar coating with a shovel, virtually NONE of the characters' actions and responses bore even the slightest semblance of realism,  and she managed to make 1980s rural Maine come across as more backward than it probably was even in the 1940s and 1950s (while also looking more dripping-with-saccharine-style-homely than any Norman Rockwell picture -- and for the record, I like Norman Rockwell.  Or at least I like his Christmas pictures.)

 

Laura Levine's entry fared a bit better (I'd call it the book's highlight if such a term were appropriate for a muted glow in the midst of two seriously dulled lights); at least she took me right back to L.A. inside my head and the plotting was halfway decent.  But her story seriously suffered from an overabundance of quirky characters, not-very-subtle hints at the MC's padded waistline and her resolutions to do something about it (in which she predictably fails on every single occasion -- and yes, I know this actually is an L.A. thing; been there and would have bought the T-shirt, too, if I'd found it funny then, but the last thing I want is to have this sort of fad jammed up my nose with a sledgehammer in a book) -- and an equal overabundance of wannabe hipster slang and coloquialisms ... everything from repeated exclamations like "ugh!", "oh golly!" and "drat!" to "bet my bottom cupcake" (and yes, even there she goes again with the calorie stuff).  Oh, and the MC's conversations with her cat and said cat's female-Garfield act got old pretty soon as well.

 

Oh well.  If nothing else, this has made me appreciate the consistently high quality of Donna Andrews's writing even more -- I'll happily be returning to her for my cozy contemporary Christmas mysteries (I just hope she'll reliably continue to produce them for the foreseeable future).

 

I may try some of the recipes included in this book eventually, though.

 

Since the audiobook I listened to has a green cover, I'll be using this as my book for the Mawlid square.

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text 2018-12-09 23:04
Fancy Food Shopping Splurge; or, the Cats and the Candle

My BFF and I took a trip down to Frankfurt yesterday, to stock up supplies at our favorite tea and spice store; and while we were there, we also took a look at Frankfurt newly-restored (pseudo-)medieval quarter (whose medieval buildings were destroyed in WWII and were now finally restored from scratch, some 70+ years later -- and wow, they sure did an amazing job there) ... and of course, at Frankfurt's main Christmas market, where I found a lovely Rosina Wachtmeister candle holder.

 

Charlie inspects the gift box I secretly had the store put together for my friend while we were there ...

... while Sunny goes straight for the jugular -- or for his human's jugular at least:

"This smells interesting.  So what exactly are pralines, mom?"

 

Seconds later, though:
"Why does this light keep moving and flickering?  That's ... intriguing, but it's also seriously spooky!  Lights aren't supposed to behave like that!!"

(Not to be outdone, Charlie has a look as well -- but to everybody's relief, doesn't dare get any closer, either!)

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text 2018-12-04 19:15
Menu Monday (but on Tuesday)

This delay until Tuesday is becoming habitual for me!  I find it difficult to get everything organized on a Monday morning--that's my story & I'm sticking to it!

 

I'm afraid that the first menu item that I'm reporting was a dire failure from my perspective.  I got the recipe off the interwebs and it sounded great.

 

Bang-Bang Shrimp with Pasta:

 

 

I really didn't like the sauce.  Maybe it was the Thai Sweet Chili Sauce which was a major component of the sauce.  Now I've got part of a bottle of the stuff and must find a way to use it.  I've found two chicken recipes that I'd be willing to try to use it up.  I didn't mind the taste with the shrimp, but disliked it on the pasta, if that makes any sense.  So it might be fine on chicken.

 

Next up was Cashew Chicken:

 

 

There were two half peppers (red and yellow) getting elderly in my crisper and this also had the benefit of using 1 can of water chestnuts (from my pantry hoard).  My inner hoarder has obviously had the upper hand during my grocery shopping recently and I must start planning menus based on the number of cans that I will be able to use up.

 

This weekend, I decided that something must also be done with a bowl full of apples that were getting soft and unpleasant for lunches.  A quick consult with a cookbook which I've got on loan from the library, and I hauled out the slow cooker and made Crustless Apple Pie.  Which is basically chunky applesauce, but I like applesauce. 

 

 

This is my version.  Following is the picture from the cookbook:

 

 

Finally, I made a Ground Beef Curry:

 

 

 

This used a jalapeno pepper that was on its last legs, a large can of tomatoes, and ground beef & frozen peas already in the freezer.  Not to mention using up two potatoes.  Since I adore curries of all descriptions, this was a great winter evening meal.

 

Bon appétit, friends!

 

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text 2018-12-02 22:35
My House Smells Wonderful....
Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes - Gina Homolka,Heather K. Jones

I have the Crustless Apple Pie in my slowcooker and it smells great. It is basically just chunky applesauce, but there is nothing wrong with that!

 

There are a few recipes in this book that I want to try. But I am glad  my library had it on the shelves.

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