Corpse Pose by Diana Killian

  Ordered this cozy while waiting for another yoga based cozy, Murder Strikes a Pose, to come in to my local indie bookshop.

I was looking for a break from the many book store/library and cat based cozies that I read.  I love them, but sometimes they start to run together in my head :).  I am not a crafty person so many of the craft cozies don’t really appeal to me, but the yoga theme really got my attention.

This cozy was very good. I ordered the next in the series already.  The opening starts with a murder (off screen) of AJ’s beloved aunt.  The murder brings her home to New Jersey as her aunt’s next of kin and heir to a yoga based empire.  AJ is a free lance PR person living in Manhatten and recently divorced and not doing well in her personal or professional life.  Her husband left her for a man and she is really feeling the sting.

I thought the mystery plot was pretty good. I liked the characters of AJ and her mother Elysia.  The characters were well done and I really liked the inclusion of Lily as I have had the misfortune to meet a yoga teacher like her so that character struck me as particularly “real”. I actually found that the yoga theme doesn’t overwhelm the story, so if a reader is not a yoga practitioner they can still enjoy this book.  There is a love interest in the form of Detective Oberlin.  I actually think the romantic elements and AJ being able to step in right back into yoga after years away were weak parts in the book.  I don’t want to discuss specifics because I can’t really do that without a spoiler so I’ll just leave it alone.

Overall, I liked AJ, the theme and the mystery, so I will definitely read the next one in the series.  I think this series may be finished because there are only four books published and the last one was in 2011.

 

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Weekend Cooking ….Swede (Rutabaga)

wkendcooking  This is a meme hosted by BethFishReads found here.  My post this week is not on one specific meal or recipe but rather on….

swede

an unfortunately neglected root vegetable in the US where I currently reside.    Maybe it’s his looks??  In real life, I don’t know anyone who eats them.

In the UK, he would be called a swede, which is short for Swedish turnip.  In some areas, he might just be referred to as a turnip, yellow turnip or neep.  In the US, however his name is rutabaga, this is derived from the original Swedish word Rotabagge.  The vegetable was first noted growing wild in Sweden.  In any case, delicious, hearty, healthy and earthy are all appropriate taglines.

Nutritionally, Swede is a fantastic source of potassium.  People who get leg cramps at night (charley horses) are often told they lack potassium and should eat bananas.  Well 1 medium swede has a banana beat by a mile as a source for potassium.  A banana provides 422 mg of potassium, while the lowly swede comes in at 1,177 or 33% of your daily recommended allowance. Vitamin C?? The banana comes in at 17%, while the swede….160%!  In addition, our swede has no fat, no cholesterol, and includes some protein, B-6, Iron, Calcium and Magnesium.

Swedes often are sold coated in wax, which might be a turnoff for some people looking at the lonely 2 or 3 swedes sitting in the produce bin at their supermarket.  The wax is to prevent the veg from drying out in cold storage.  If you look online there are youtube videos and websites  showing methods to remove the wax from the rutabaga.  Some of these seem entirely too time consuming if you ask me, refrigerating and then scraping?? microwaving and boiling?? Ummm, no.  I have no issue removing the wax and skin from the Swede with these:knives

First, use cleaver (probably any heavy duty kitchen knife would do) to cut swede into quarters, then use your sharp peeler and it works just fine.    I guess if for some reason you wanted just the wax off and to leave the skin on the Swede you could try one of the other methods available on line.

As far as cooking, my standby is simply to cut the swede into chunks.  Then, toss with olive oil, coarse salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven for about 40 minutes, shaking the tray a couple times.  Alternatively, I have been known to throw some chunks into a pot of boiling water with potatoes and mash them up together with butter, milk, salt and pepper.

My family’s favorite is to use Swede and other of his root vegetable friends in a root vegetable gratin.

5 pounds of mixed root veg (including swede, of course)

1  cup of heavy cream

salt & pepper

1 cup vegetable broth or chicken or whatever you like.

4 Tbsp. butter

chunk of parmesan cheese or about a 3/4 cup shredded.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Use one Tbsp butter to butter an 8 x 12 ish pan (I use a Le Creuset oval baker I have but that doesn’t really matter)
  • peel and slice  veg thin (a mandoline would come in handy…I don’t have one I just slice with a knife)
  • Layer in pan seasoning between each layer (I try to put all one veg in a layer but to each their own)
  • When they are all layered in the pan pour in the broth, put pats of butter on top and cover with foil.
  • bake for about 30 minutes.  veg should let you slide a knife in pretty easily.
  • Take from oven and crank it up to 425. Pour over cream, grate cheese (if not grated) or sprinkle cheese over top of cream
  • Put back in oven for about 20 minutes.

I know my unexactness (is that even a word??) bugs some people (read…my daughter) but I generally just eyeball things.  Exact recipes are all over the web and can vary greatly in the proportions so try a couple.  Here are a couple hints:  if you use a bigger pan then your veg layers will be spread out and thinner, you will have to adjust cooking time, also if you use a smaller pan you layers will be deeper, watch your liquid  and adjust your cooking time.  When you pour the broth in it should NOT be covering the veg, just covering the bottom of the dish.

Enjoy!