Pesto Presto!

If your garden is like mine, you have So. Much. Basil. right now. You also have poison ivy, and you have cucumbers and squash growing where your hydrangeas used to be, in a flower bed right in front of the house, but that’s another story.

Anyway, what to do with all the basil?

Make pesto, of course!

Now, I’ve never made pesto, so I thought I would share my first attempt with you through photos. And since it turned out to be DELICIOUS, I hope you’ll give it a try in your own kitchen!

Here’s what my basil looked like before this activity:

 

I know. Bushy and overgrown, much like quarantine hair. I cut quite a bit of the basil and ended up with an armful that looked like this:

 

I washed the basil and snipped off the leaves (just using my fingers, which are now green) to measure two packed cups. I put the basil in the food processor. Then I added 1/3 cup of pine nuts, which I had toasted in the toaster oven for just a few minutes.

 

This is what it looked like:

 

I pulsed the mixture several times, until it looked like this:

 

Next I minced 3 cloves of garlic and added that to the mixture in the food processor, along with 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

 

Then I pulsed the mixture several more times, after scraping down the side of the processor.

 

Then I added 1/2 cup of olive oil in a thin stream while the food processor was running. I let it run for about ten seconds (and yes, I did try to fancy-up the photo).

 

This is what the pesto looked like when I turned off the food processor:

 

Finally, I added a pinch of salt and let the food processor run again for several seconds. Then I put a dollop of pesto on three bread rounds and we tried it. Yum! For those of you who might be wondering, I do not normally garnish our plates like this. I did it purely for your visual enjoyment. In truth, we would normally just scrape the pesto up with the bread and eat it over the sink like uncivilized boars.

 

If you make pesto, be sure to put it in the fridge, covered with plastic (press right down onto the surface of the pesto) so the air doesn’t get to it. In this case, the pesto filled one of my glass jars right to the top, so I didn’t need any plastic wrap.

Here’s a recap:

2 c. basil, well-packed

1/3 c. pine nuts, toasted

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 c. olive oil

dash salt, if desired

Place basil and pine nuts in a food processor. Pulse several times. Add garlic and grated cheese; pulse several times again.  Make sure you’re scraping down the side of the food processor occasionally. Using the food processor’s tube, pour the olive oil into the processor in a thin stream while the machine is running. Season with salt.

Pesto is delicious on bread, but you can also mix it into soups, try it in place of pasta sauce, replace pizza sauce with on your favorite homemade pizza, jazz up a sandwich, or make a compound butter with it.

Next I’m going to try oregano pesto. We’ll see how it goes.

What is your favorite thing to make with garden bounty or summer vegetables and herbs from the farmers’ market/grocery store?

Until next time,

Amy

First Tuesday Recipes for July

Photo courtesy of pixabay/alexas_fotos

This post almost didn’t happen because I’ve been having so many problems with my computer, which finally died last Friday. Luckily, my daughter wasn’t using hers this morning (Monday, July 7th), so I borrowed it to write the post.

If you live in a place where it’s anywhere near as hot as in New Jersey (where we’re literally melting in the streets), you’ll appreciate some no-cook/grilling recipes this month. And that’s exactly what I’ve got for you.

Grilled Shrimp

This is a recipe I adapted from Food.Com.

2 lbs. extra large uncooked shrimp (size 21-25), peeled and deveined

2 t. finely minced garlic

1 t. paprika

1 t. Italian seasoning

1 t. basil

1/4 t. black pepper

2 T. olive oil

1 T. lemon juice

1 T. brown sugar

Mix all ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Marinate in refrigerator for 20 minutes. While the shrimp is marinating, preheat grill to high. Grill shrimp until pink and charred, about 2-3 minutes per side. Using a grill basket makes grilling the shrimp much easier!!

***

“The Wild Thornberrys'” Watergate Salad

This is from neither “The Wild Thornberrys” nor the Watergate, but it is very similar to the famous salad and that’s what my family calls it.

1 small box pistachio pudding mix

2 8-oz. cans crushed pineapple,  undrained

8-oz. container Cool Whip

8 oz. cottage cheese

1 c. mini marshmallows

In a large bowl, combine pudding mix and pineapple (with juice) until blended. Add Cool Whip, cottage cheese, and mini marshmallows. Stir gently until combined. Spread in a 13 x 9″ baking dish and chill until ready to serve.

***

Greek Sandwich

Sandwich:

8 slices sourdough bread

1/4 t. each salt and pepper

8 slices tomato

1 cucumber, peeled and cut into slices the same thickness as the tomato

3 c. spring greens or other greens of your choice

1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly

2 T. pitted Kalamata olives, chopped

Vinaigrette:

2 T. crumbled feta cheese

2 T. lemon juice

1 T. olive oil

1/2 t. sugar

1/2 t. oregano

1 clove garlic, minced

pinch salt

Have all ingredients ready (mise en place–you’ll be glad you did). Toast bread lightly. While the bread toasts, combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing all ingredients with a whisk until well-combined.

As soon as the bread is golden, divide the tomato slices evenly on four pieces of bread. Sprinkle with half the salt and pepper mixture. Place cucumbers on top of the tomatoes; sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Add greens, onion, and olives to the vinaigrette; mix well. Arrange greens mixture over the cucumbers. Top with remaining toast.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. I have absolutely no idea why some of the ingredients are highlighted in this post, but it means nothing. Carry on.

 

 

Reading Round-Up: June Edition

It’s been two months since my last Reading Round-Up because I’ve been reading very slowly lately. But I have some great books to share this week and I think I’m back on track for another Round-Up on the last Tuesday in July.

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Man of the Year

The first book I read was Man of the Year by Caroline Louise Walker. This was a book of psychological suspense that I enjoyed but thought could have been shorter (it’s about 500 pages). Read my review here.

***

The Penitent Priest by J. R. Mathis

The Penitent Priest by J.R. Mathis is the first book in a new series, and I found it very enjoyable. Quick synopsis: a man who joined the priesthood in middle age is sent back to pastor the parish where his wife was murdered. If you like the Father Brown mysteries, you’ll like this book. Read my review here.

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Let it All Burn by Denise Grover Swank

My book club read Let It All Burn by Denise Grover Swank in May. This was a paranormal book with a heavy dose of mythology, and I enjoyed it. I hadn’t expected to, since paranormal is usually not my thing, but I was wrong and happily so. Check out my review here.

***

Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee Strauss

Next up was Murder Aboard the Flying Scotsman by Lee Strauss. Though this is the 8th book in the Ginger Gold Mysteries, it was my first and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone who likes cozies set in the 1920s. This one is set aboard a train, making it appear to be a locked room mystery, but it branches out to other venues and we get to see a bit of England in the process. You can read my review here.

***

Emerald's Secret by Iris Chacon

I read Emerald’s Secret by Iris Chacon in under two hours. It’s a short, delightful novel that is typical of Iris’ fun style, quirky characters, and fast-moving plots. In this book, four police officers go undercover to bust a gambling ring, and each of the four is assigned an undercover identity that is nothing like his or her real personality. A great book that I think you’ll enjoy. Read my full review here.

***

The Gallery of Ghosts by Victoria Benchley

The Gallery of Ghosts by Victoria Benchley is the second book in her Marsden Murder Club series. The Marsden Murder Club is a group of people who come together to solve cold case murders. Each member of the club has a specific and unique talent which is the reason he or she has been invited to join. The main character, Charlotte, has an uncanny ability to read people—to discern their pasts and uncover their secrets. This book takes place along the Hudson River and flirts with a hint of mysticism when Charlotte can sense the ancient drumbeats of the original dwellers along the river. This was a great read and you can take a look at my review here.

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The final book this month was Rail Head by Stephen Honig. This is a book of poems all about trains—commuting, traveling, collecting, etc. I don’t read much poetry, but this is the second book I’ve read by Stephen Honig and I find his poetry insightful and interesting. I love the author’s note at the end explaining why he wrote the book. I would recommend it to lovers of unique poetry.

What have you read lately? Please share in the comments.

Until next time,

Amy

The Top 5 Places this Book Nerd Would Love to Visit

Photo courtesy of Dariusz Sankowski, pixabay

I wrote this post for another site (Book Cave) that published it last week, but I’m going to share it here, too, because I’m hoping that you’ll all chime in with your favorite bookish destinations.

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A lot of people don’t like the phrase “bucket list,” but most of us have them. I like to think of mine as a Lifelong To-Do List. My list includes things like learning Greek, visiting Turkey, and taking a cooking class in Italy.

My list is a mile long and includes lots of other things, too, but because I’m a card-carrying Book Nerd (and I suspect some of you are, too), there’s a special subset of my list that I want to share with you today: Bookish Things. This subset doesn’t consist merely of travel to famous bookish places, but also includes things like relearning stories from Greek and Roman mythology (have you noticed a Mediterranean bent to my lists?), writing a piece for a national newspaper, and finishing every single book on my Kindle.

But the Bookish Things I want to share with you today are all travel-related, since in this time of pandemic, most of us can only dream about traveling. And what better way to daydream than to imagine myself in the most fascinating bookish places in the world?

With that, I present you with the top five places on my Book Nerd bucket list.

 

Hay-on-Wye

This village in Wales, population about 1500, sits on the border with England and is home to over twenty bookshops devoted to all manner of literary niches. And traditional bookshops aren’t the only attractions: there are also a number of honesty bookshops, which are simply shelves and shelves of outdoor “shops” with a cash box nearby. Readers are asked to put their money in the cash box before walking off with a book. There are even honesty bookshelves lining the wall of one of the castles in town. Yes, there’s more than one castle in Hay-on-Wye.

There’s something about browsing shelves of real books for hours on end that I find really appealing, especially at a time when so many brick-and-mortar bookstores are closing. And there’s even a store called Murder & Mayhem, which is devoted to the kinds of books I love best. I can see myself spending way too much time (and money) in there.

Hay-on-Wye is also renowned for its annual literary festival (cancelled this year), which takes place for almost two weeks in May and June and which Bill Clinton has referred to as “Woodstock for the mind.” I hear that the town’s population skyrockets to about 500,000 during the festival.

If you want to know more about Hay-on-Wye, I suggest these two websites: https://www.solosophie.com/hay-on-wye-book-town-wales-guide/ and http://www.hay-on-wye.co.uk/.

 

Jane Austen’s House

This museum is located in Chawton, Hampshire, England. It’s the place where Jane Austen spent most of the last eight years of her life and the place where she penned Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, among others.

The collection at Jane Austen’s House includes the legendary author’s writing desk, some furniture, personal letters, and her jewelry, among many other things. Visitors can wander through her house and garden, which I think would be enchanting.

Want to add this place to your list of Bookish Things to Do? Visit https://janeaustens.house/explore/the-museum/ to find out more.

 

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

This museum, located in Key West, Florida, USA, is the place Ernest Hemingway called home for ten years. He lived in the home during one of the most prolific periods of his writing life.

The museum is also home to many descendants of the cats who lived in the home during Hemingway’s time there.

If you think this is a place you’d like to visit, click on the link to see the website. https://www.hemingwayhome.com/.

 

The Laura Ingalls Wilder Road Trip

As a devotee of Laura Ingalls Wilder from childhood, I would love to tour the places where she lived and which served as inspiration for her Little House on the Prairie series. From Silver Creek to Walnut Grove and well beyond, visitors can see where she lived (in some places, only replicas are available, but that’s okay with me) and played and farmed and taught.

Here are a couple websites you might find interesting: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2015/08/12/bcst-thread-books-laura-ingalls-wilder-road-trip, https://midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/history_heritage/ingalls_wilder/laura_ingalls_wilder_sites.html, and http://littlehouseontheprairie.com/historic-locations-and-museum-sites/.

 

The Mark Twain House and Museum

Located in Hartford, Connecticut, USA, this is the place where Mark Twain lived with his family from 1874 to 1891, when financial woes forced them to move to Europe. The house is a breathtaking example of American Gothic architecture, and it would be fun to tour for that reason alone. But to walk where Twain walked, to peek into the rooms where he laughed and wrote, would be a special treat.

If you’re a writer, the Mark Twain House and Museum also has classes, workshops, and a Writers Weekend. How cool would that be?!

To learn more about the house and museum, head to the website at https://marktwainhouse.org/. And you can even take a virtual tour by visiting this page: https://marktwainhouse.org/about/the-house/virtual-tour/.

Now it’s your turn. What’s on your Lifelong To-Do List of Bookish Things? Have you visited any of the places on my list? I’d love to hear about it!

Until next time,

Amy

Book Review – Cape Menace

I want to thank Lynne Fellows for a beautifully-written and thoughtful review of Cape Menace. Since I didn’t write a blog post for this week, I think this will do nicely!

Just 4 My Books

Cape Menace

by Amy M. Reade

The blurb:

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are
saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on…

View original post 564 more words

We Are the World Blogfest #WATWB

It’s the last Friday in May, and time for some good news to take you into June with a smile. The post I’ve chosen to share this month is about a planned solar project in Nevada that has been approved by the US Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management. The project will result in the largest solar facility in the United States and the 8th largest in the world.

And the best part? The renewable energy generated from the facility will offset the annual greenhouse emissions from 83,000 cars. There will also be long-term monitoring of the project to reduce the possible negative environmental impacts caused by the facility.

Click here to read the story.

Here’s how #WATWB works: On the last Friday of each month a number of bloggers participate in a worldwide blog hop in which each blogger highlights a story that spreads good news, happiness, and hope.

Your cohosts for this month are Eric LahtiSusan Scott, Dan AntionDamyanti Biswas, and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal. And if you want to read more uplifting articles, please visit the WATWB Facebook page here or the Twitter home page here to find links to other stories.

Want to join? Click this link to sign up and help spread some happiness!

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – Pre-order for June 2nd – Cape Menace: A Cape May #Historical Mystery by Amy M. Reade

With thanks to Sally Cronin for sharing the news of my new release…

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to share the news of the release of  Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery (Cape May Historical Mystery Collection Book 1)by USA Today Bestselling author Amy M. Reade on pre-order for June 2nd.

About the book

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are
saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time…

View original post 480 more words

A Time to Embrace…

Almost four years ago, I wrote a blog post honoring my grandfather, who had just passed away, and my eldest daughter, who was graduating from high school. I took the title of my post, “A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance,” from the Book of Ecclesiastes.

And time flew.

Yesterday that same daughter graduated from college amid a global health emergency, and again I turn to Ecclesiastes for inspiration—”there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing” (Ecc 3:5).

If you know my daughter, you know she’s happiest when she’s surrounded by her friends and all the people who love her. She looked forward to her graduation as a celebration with all her favorite people, and now that the fun and excitement of that rite of passage has been taken from her, she’s been feeling sad and blue. I know she’s not the only one, that there are literally millions of young men and women around the globe who have missed and will miss big events in their own lives due to this pandemic, but she’s the one who matters most to us right now.

Of course, our family of five will share hugs with Carolyn today, but for everyone else who was supposed to be with us for the celebration, this is a time to refrain from embracing. In fact, this is a time when we’re all supposed to be six feet from each other if we’re not wearing masks. It’s a scary time, and one that has left people feeling lonely and frustrated.

But Carolyn will be able to embrace her larger family and her friends again, just as people all around the world will, too. It may be a while before it happens, but it will happen.

Because there is a time to embrace, and that time will come again.

To everyone graduating this year, wherever you are, you have a bright future ahead of you. This pandemic has made us all stronger and more aware of the things that matter. Remember what you’ve learned.

Congratulations and best wishes to the Class of 2020!

Until next time,

Amy

P.S. The family photo was taken from an appropriate social distance!

The Cape May Historical Mystery Collection

As you may have heard a hundred times by now, my next book is called Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery. This is the first book in my new Cape May Historical Mysteries Collection.

I thought I’d use my post today to tell you a little more about the collection. As of now, I am planning to include at least seven mysteries in the collection. The books will span the length of Cape May’s history between 1712 and the World War II era. Each book will be a standalone, so there is no need to read them in any particular order. Each book will feature different characters and focus on mysteries that are unrelated.

I am really excited about this project. My husband has been asking me for years to write about the area where we live in New Jersey, and I have found the research fascinating. I’m learning so much—the amount of information I didn’t know about Cape May County could fill volumes!

Here’s a little more about the Cape Menace:

Sarah Hanover and her parents, Ruth and William, left behind their life in England and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the English colonies in 1710, settling in the colony that had only recently been named New Jersey. Until the very early eighteenth century, the area had been known as East Jersey and West Jersey. It was in 1702 that the two provinces were joined.

In December of 1712, Sarah’s mother disappears without a trace. Sarah is convinced that her mother met a violent death when she came upon a wolf in the woods near their home, but as Sarah is to later discover, there were other—more sinister—forces at work at the time of Ruth’s disappearance.

It is just over two years later, in 1714, when Sarah experiences tragedy again, this time one that forces her to take a hard look at the secrets her father kept from her. She is beset by questions about the mysterious stranger with whom her father was doing business, the whispers she keeps hearing about her mother’s disappearance, and her own safety as she starts asking questions about what happened to Ruth.

I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Cape Menace and if you do, I hope you enjoy it. The ebook is available for preorder now (link to Google Play TBA), and the paperback version will be available very soon. I will keep you posted. If you’re interested, click this link to be directed to preorder at your favorite online retailer.

Thank you!

Until next time,

Amy

Cover Reveal AND Reading Round-Up

First things first. Yesterday my newsletter subscribers got the first look at the cover of my next book, Cape Menace: A Cape May Historical Mystery, and now it’s time to share it here! This is the first book in my new Cape May Historical Mystery Collection, a collection of standalone mysteries set throughout the history of Cape May, New Jersey.

Here’s the blurb of the new book, which will be available for pre-order soon (don’t worry—I’ll get all the details to you!):

The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah. Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping that Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

***

And here’s the cover!

I hope you love it as much as I do.

***

And now it’s time for the Reading Round-Up. I never did post at the end of March, so this month I’ll share some of the reads I really enjoyed over the past 60 days. I thought I’d get more reading done because of the quarantine, but I was wrong. My reading schedule hasn’t changed much—this is actually good, since it means I’m sticking to my routine. Reading is always a part of my day, but so are a lot of other things, and that hasn’t changed.

Every book in this round-up gets 5 stars from me, and I will not share the only book I didn’t like.

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First up, No One Will Find Me by Marja McGraw. I loved this book, as I have loved all the other books in the Sandi Webster series. Set in the desert of the American southwest, this mystery follows Sandi, her husband, their friends Stanley and Felicity, and Sandi’s parents as they search for a serial killer who’s gotten away with murder for many years. Read my review here.

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Sprinkle with Murder, book 1 in the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay, was a fun cozy read that introduced readers to Mel and Angie, co-owners of the new Fairy Tale Cupcakes Bakery. Mel is accused of murdering the nightmare fiancee of one of her best friends, and the story unfolds delightfully from there. Read my review here.

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If you like thrillers, do yourself a favor and read this book. Ann Cleeves has done a fabulous job of putting the reader smack into the action of Raven Black, a whodunit that takes place on a remote Scottish island. Read my review here.

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This is the second book I’ve read by Bibiana Krall, and it was a superb and spellbinding tale of legend, paranormal suspense, and Irish folklore. I love the way Krall uses language to bring urgency and horror to Loftus Hall, Book 2 in the Irish Phantom series. Read my review here.

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Poison Branches is the first in the Perri Seamore series of genealogical mysteries by author Cynthia Raleigh. Main character Perri Seamore is off on a girls’ weekend and she’s combined it with a research trip to Kentucky to find information about her ancestors. When a murder takes place in the small town where Perri is staying, she is drawn into the investigation because the police need her expertise in ancestry research to find the murderer. Read my review here.

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I have read several of Sally’s books, and they’re always a treat. She has shown time and again, both in books and on her blog, that her writing skills go way beyond one genre or one kind of poetry. Life’s Rich Tapestry is a celebration of writing, of inspiration, of human nature, and of the natural world. But there’s so much more, and you’ll have to read it to fully appreciate Sally’s talents and wisdom. Read my review here.

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Every time I read a book of psychological suspense, I love the genre more. And The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides was no exception. If you’re looking for something that you can read quickly (because you’ll have no choice—you can’t stop turning pages), check out this novel. Read my review here.

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Please remember to review the books you read! Reviews are important for authors and we appreciate every single one.

Until next time,

Amy