Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew

Tannie Maria is a warm-hearted cook who lives in a rural area of South Africa. She writes a food-based agony column for the local newspaper. One of her readers asks:

I am wondering what really matters? Really. Family? Duty? God? Friends? Food? Love?

Tannie Marie replies with great warmth and wisdom:

In the end what matters most is love and food. Without them you go hungry. And you need them to enjoy all of the other things you write about.

And Tannie Maria loves to cook and to share food. Soon she becomes involved in a murder investigation because of a letter she received from a lady looking for help with an abusive husband. Good food helps her unearth vital clues.

The book gives a very warm feeling for the area, its landscape, weather, and wildlife. Characters use many Afrikaans words. The meaning can generally be inferred from the context but a glossary is also provided. Recipes for the meals and cakes mentioned are also provided.

If you like Alexander McCall Smith’s mysteries set in Botswana, this book is for you.

Warning: Do not read this book when you are hungry or if you have no food in the house.

The Physics of Everyday Things by James Kakalios

What does a clock have in common with an electronic timer? They both rely on the principle of the oscillating pendulum.

Why is an electric toothbrush like a hotel keycard? They each use one coil to induce a current in another coil.

And how is an E-Z Pass system similar to a toaster? They both generate electromagnetic waves – thus the red glow of the toaster wires.

This book is organized around the story of a day. The author explains the physics behind the items that we use and take for granted. His explanations are clear and understandable – even for a reader who has no knowledge of physics.

Final Demand by Deborah Moggach

This is a page-turner! Very immediate, contemporary and absorbing.

Natalie works in the accounts department of a telecommunications company. She is young, attractive, bored, and short of money. A colleagues’ chance remark on how easy it would be to tamper with the checks she processes plants the seed of a nefarious idea in her mind. Just one minor detail before she can begin…she needs to change her initials. Natalie is a determined young lady and very thorough in her preparations. The details of her scheme are so very plausible.

But, there’s no such thing as the perfect crime. Or the victimless crime. One small oversight on Natalie’s part causes distress in the lives of others….and sadly, tragedy for one family. Wracked by guilt, the victim’s father makes the Final Demand of Natalie. How does this self-absorbed young woman respond?

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

An atmospheric, haunting and beautifully written story of how the people of the tiny Normandy village of Vergers cope with German occupation, and the destruction of all they hold dear. Relatives and neighbors are conscripted or assassinated. Food and fuel are meagerly rationed. Yet, the French villagers devise ingenious ways to support one another. You will be reminded of Emma’s cleverness and bravery when you eat a baguette again. The story also offers a different perspective on a major historical event….I can’t be any more specific!

King Soloman’s Table by Joan Nathan

This is a glorious cookbook. Joan Nathan clearly relishes the preparation of good food. But what adds depth to this cookbook is the history behind the recipes and the author’s contagious appreciation for the history, culture, and faith that influenced the evolution of the recipes. A simple Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad recipe leads off with a discussion of the role of beets in the Iraqi diet – they were considered to be an antidote to leprosy and skin diseases.

The recipes offer surprising combinations that reflect the many countries that the Jewish people have lived– Winter Squash Soup with Coconut Milk and Hot Pepper, for example.

If you are looking for a simple recipe for a transcendent taste experience: try the Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe

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