Sunday, March 26, 2017

Weekend Round-Up

Book Club Recommends

This compelling mystery novel starts off with a few sentences that hook the reader.

"If I'd blinked, I would have missed it. But I didn't, and saw something fall from the rear deck of the opposite ferry. It could have been a bundle of trash; it could have been a child size doll. Either was more likely than what I thought I saw: A small wide-eyed human face, in one tiny frozen moment as it plummeted towards the water. “

The premise of the story what would you do if you saw someone dropping a child off of a passing ferry boat? Jump off into the freezing waters of Lake Champlain from your passing ferry boat, of course! This is exactly what our heroine, Troy Chance did in this first mystery debut novel by Sara Henry. Then what would you do if no one reported the child missing? Take him home because you just know his safety is in your hands---maybe not---but Troy did because of a "feeling".

The theme of this story was very different from what one would expect, but Sara Henry actually made it seem realistic. This small, French speaking boy, Paul, clung to Troy but wouldn't or couldn't tell Troy exactly what happened to him. But he did know that he saw someone shoot his mom, and those same people kept him in a room by himself for a number of months. It is an exciting adventure with life threatening situations Troy goes through solving mysteries along the way.    

With this award-winning first novel in a series , Louise Penny introduces an engaging hero in Inspector Gamache to the reader. 
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, a methodical, experienced, brilliant detective, comes to the town of Sûreté du Québec with his team of investigators. They are called to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal. 
Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it's a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.
The title refers not just to a painting, but to the way some people live their lives. Rather than actively pursuing their hopes and dreams, they wait for good things to come to them.

Some Creative Peeps Ideas  

Drink Stirs
Peeps Nests 
Peeps in a Jar
Check out 11 DIY Peeps ideas for Easter

Spring for this recipe
Strawberry Crumb Bars
Cook's notes: These bars are perfect with a cup of coffee in the afternoon, or a scoop of ice cream for an easy spring dessert. The base is made with just butter, flour, a little sugar with some cornstarch. It’s shortbread-esque, and perfectly firm to support the thick layer of berries. The streusel has large crumbles with a nice crunch, and the delicate butter flavor pairs so well with the strawberries. And for the piece de resistance add a drizzle of almond icing. A spring birthday treat for Robert Frost' s birthday.

Recipe adapted from
For the Base

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Strawberry Layer
  • Dice 1 to 1-1/2 pounds of strawberries to equal 2-1/2 cups
  • 1 TB. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp.  cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. orange zest 
For the Streusel Topping
  • 1/4 cup butter , melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar, light or dark (I used dark)
  • 2 TB. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. Saigon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup regular oats
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper leaving an overhang on each side. Grease with butter or non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  • In a large bowl beat together the butter and sugar until well combined. Turn the mixer down to low and beat in the flour, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt until combined. The mixture will be crumbly. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the prepared pan. 
Cooking tip: Flour your hands for this step. 
  • Bake for 13 minutes.
  • While the bottom layer is baking, make the strawberry layer and topping. To make the strawberry layer toss together all the ingredients (strawberries, cornstarch, sugar & orange zest) in a medium sized bowl. Set aside.
  • To make the streusel topping, in a medium bowl stir together all the ingredients using a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. It will be crumbly. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. 
  • After the bottom layer is done baking, remove it from the oven. Let crust cool 5 minutes.
  • Carefully spoon the strawberry mixture over the shortbread base until it's evenly covered. Then add the crumbled streusel mixture over the strawberry layer. If you make a fist around the streusel and release your hand - it should form crumbles.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until the streusel topping begins to turn golden brown and you can see the strawberry layer bubbling underneath.
  • Cool completely before icing the bars. Place bars in refrigerator 15 minutes to set icing. 
Almond Icing Ingredients and Directions:
Whisk together until smooth 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1-2 TB.fresh orange juice and1/4 tsp. almond extract.  

Biggest Find of the Day in Downtown Tucson-a little taste of home 

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