Christmas Cooking

Getting ready for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day cooking. One daughter works both days and the other is leaving for Europe Christmas night so all the cooking (and eating) has to fit in around those schedules.

Christmas Eve (sit down dinner)

  • Ginger Ham from Nigella: recipe found here.
  • Mashed potatoes and country gravy
  • Sweet Potato Spoon Custard from Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine cookbook by the Darden Sisters. (My copy is so old and so well used it is actually in pieces and I have to keep it in a ziploc bag)
  • Oven roasted parsnips
  • Brussels and Chestnuts:  recipe from here.  (First time making this at the request of my daughter.  She had it in France and really liked it.)
  • Saveur retake on the green bean casserole: recipe found here. (a family favorite from the Saveur cookbook)
  • Fresh Pineapple
  • Parker Rolls (dough made in the bread machine)
  • Buttermilk Biscuits (trying Alton Brown’s this year)
  • Desserts:  Jack Daniels  Cake – adapted from Maida Heatter’s The Original Kentucky Whiskey Cake; Old-fashioned Coconut Cake from Maida Heatter; Jammy Tarts; Christmas cookies

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and time with their friends and family!



Coming Clean by Sue Margolis


I have read other books by Sue Margolis and enjoyed them, so when I saw this one I picked it up.

This was a quick chick lit read for me.  What really stood out was the realistic portrayal of a marital breakup.  In most of these type books the divorce is predicated by some great betrayal, whether it be adultery, theft, or some other deceit, but in real life most people that I know who divorced were just cases like this, people growing apart over time.  The more “apart” people feel, the less inclined they are to forgive their partner’s bad habits or faults (which is basically what happened in the story). I have had more than one friend say that their marriage turned into just a “roommate” type relationship.  I also felt that the financial situation was more realistic than in the average chick lit/women’s fiction divorce story.

I admire the writing and the character development, but that being said there was something missing.  Perhaps the story was so close to real life that it seemed a little mundane?  Not really certain, however overall a good but not great read.


Death Day Party by Paula Carter


I picked this up at my independent bookseller after reading the first in the series, Leading an Elegant Death.

This outing in the series didn’t work as well as the first book for me.  This book used a classic plot device, the isolated house in the country, a storm, a bridge to the house washed out, and from then on it “And Then There Were None” territory.  This book was written in 1999 but it came across as a much earlier time and yet it was obviously supposed to be set currently. Although I have read and enjoyed mysteries with this “isolated country house” plot device, it just didn’t ring quite true in this case.

I still enjoyed the protagonists, although Hillary is becoming progressively sillier.  I think that I would have enjoyed another mystery set in the town so that Hillary and Jane would interact more with recurring characters, rather than introduce an entirely new large cast of characters.

I will read the third and last book in the series if I come across it because I did enjoy the first book quite a bit.

Murder on the Rocks by Allyson K. Abbott

 I just finished this first book in a new (to me) series this afternoon, waiting on doctor’s appointments.  I really enjoyed it!

The mystery was well developed.  I loved the bar theme (and the cocktail recipes).  The protagonist Mack Dalton was really interesting and strongly drawn.  There was a plethora of suspects that Mack, with the assistance of hunky cop Duncan, sorted through, confirming alibis and uncovering clues.  A big positive was that the sleuth is actively involved in the investigation, even though she is a suspect. In some cozies, the sleuth just sort of stumbles around and doesn’t seem to actively investigate.

There is also an interesting Al Capone connection thrown in the mix.  This was a very satisfying cozy and a good start to new series.  I will be on the look out for the next book in the series and some of the other books by this author.

The Other Child by Charlotte Link


Saw this book mentioned on a blog and picked it up from my library.  The story has a diverse group of characters and a dual story line.  One story has to do with Gwen, a spinster, who lives an isolated existence and now has met a young man, who for some unfathomable reason has asked her to marry him.  The second story has to do with a horrific event which occurred during the war.

The two stories are intermingled and you are led to believe that one is related to the other.

My main issue with the book is that the second story is told through emailed documents – between the two participants in the event.  Why would they need to do that in such exacting detail?  They were there.  Made no sense to me.  I will say that the story of what happened during the war was absolutely heartbreaking.  I found it very depressing.

The current story had a disjointed feel and it was pretty obvious who the villain was relatively early on.

The Other Child had an interesting plot, the idea for the story was quite good.  It just suffered in the execution.

The Christie Curse by Victoria Abbott

Just got around to reading this because the second book, The Sayers Swindle is out now.  I am so glad I did.  This was a very well done mystery with interesting characters and lots of twists and turns.  I loved the theme, book collecting, similar to the Dido Hoare mysteries that I like.

The main character, Jordan Bingham, is well crafted.  She is very realistic, not some simpering princess but not an unbelievable she-hulk either.  The other characters were fun and interesting, particularly her Uncles.  The book is well written and edited so that the pace flows along nicely and the ending ties up neatly and quickly.  I had figured out one of the villains, but it did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.

I am looking forward to the next one of these!