Archive for Wednesday, 21 December, 2011

Tempe Brennan shares a message to the reader, amidst thrilling tales of murder and mayhem.
The two newest novels in the Temperance Brennan saga contain serious messages about professionalism and the mission of forensic anthropologists. The author, Kathy Reichs, is a board certified Forensic Anthropologist, who works for the Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de medicine legale for the Provence of Quebec. She is a professor at the UNC-Charlotte, and former vice president of the American Acadamy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. All this and she writes crime novels that inspired the hit Fox TV show Bones, that she also serves as an executive producer for. After such a long and diverse professional history, she has a lot of real experience to draw on to form compelling stories for her novels.
In 206 Bones Reichs’s alter ego Temperance Brennan is dealing with having been kidnapped. As she slowly comes aware of her surroundings after having been buried alive she remembers the twists and turns of the many cases she had been working as well as the personal issues she faced recently as she tries to figure out when and where she is and who is her unseen enemy. From identifying remains of older women who were brutally murdered, to helping a friend of her soon to be ex-husbands family find answers for a missing grandson she spends a complex winter in the frigid north, while missing her home in South Carolina. She is dealing with her ex-boyfriend and partner Ryan’s making friends with her ex-husband’s family as she tries to prepare for the holidays with them. And with an unknown enemy claiming she is incompetent and falsified cause of death on an old case she worked on. Soon both her work, and the work of the pathologists that she works with in Quebec are called into scrutiny as a bullet track is seemingly ignored by the pathologist assigned to a murder investigation and finger bones go missing that are crucial to identification on the case that Tempe is working on. I won’t give away any more details that that, but I will tell you that the epilogue from Reichs files talks about professional conduct and certification. The moral of the tale is that just because you wear a lab coat does not make you an expert. That it is important to have the education and certification in your field, and that unfortunately not all courts recognize the difference between a lab tech and a forensic specialist.

In Spider Bones Tempe is once again working in Quebec when a mysterious body appears in a small lake that is identified by fingerprints as a man who died in Vietnam. The case takes Tempe home to North Carolina to exhume the soldier’s grave, and then to Hawaii to the labs of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in order to find answers as to who the man in the lake and the man buried in the soldier’s grave really are. Throw in shark attacks, The Sons of Samoa, death threats, Ryan and his heroin addict daughter, and her own daughter Katy’s longtime boyfriend Coop having been murdered by insurgents while attempting to return from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan. The message of this novel is certainly that any death is tragic, and that every human deserves the respect of being identified and returned to their loved ones. Reichs brings to public awareness the JPAC motto and mission, “Until they are home” and provides contact information for various agencies in the military to contact for information about missing American soldiers. And this is a noble mission indeed.

Nicola A. Jones

A Sweet Treat for Anytime

Posted: Wednesday, 21 December, 2011 by nicolajones in Food & Fun
Tags: , ,

A Sweet Treat for Anytime
Nicola A. Jones

This holiday I decided to try a variety of new cookie recipes. I found a wonderful recipe for applesauce-honey cookies, which after making the kids simply adored. The recipe tells you to chill the dough for one hour, but I found that it worked better if you leave it in the fridge for longer. The dough is also very soft, so if you wanted to you could easily add half a cup of rolled oats to increase the nutritional value of the cookie, and make it somewhat stiffer of dough. Make sure that you thoroughly coat the surface you are working on in flour as well as your hands because the dough is very sticky because of the honey in the recipe. The taste of the cookie is very mild apple tasting, and can easily be spiced up with additional cinnamon and ginger, or you might think about adding dried apple chunks, dried cranberries, orange peel, or nuts to the dough. You can also make up a big batch, and keep it stored in the fridge for up to a week as long as it is sealed tightly in plastic wrap and wax paper. The cookies keep well in air tight containers, and make a nice sweet after school snack or accompany tea well.

The following recipe comes from Great American Home Baking, which was a mail order card recipe program during the 90’s. There is no publisher listed, or publication dates.

Applesauce-Honey Cookies
10 minutes preparation, 1 hour chilling, 14 minutes baking per batch
Makes 3 1/2 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon honey, at room temperature

1. Mix together flour, backing powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt.
2. Beat together butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in egg, applesauce, and honey. At low speed, beat in flour mixture until well combined. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 375* F. Grease 2 baking sheets.
4. On a floured surface, using floured hands roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart, on prepared baking sheets. Using a floured fork, firmly flatten each cookie, leaving deep grooves.
5. Bake cookies until just set and golden, 14 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to wire racks to cool for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.
If you want to add in extra spices do so at step 1. I would recommend adding ¼ tsp. nutmeg and ¼ orange zest, but experiment and find the blend that you enjoy most. Try adding a ½ cup of rolled oats after blending in the flour mixture in step 2. Add dried fruit or nuts before shaping if you so desire. Keep in mind that at this point the consistency of the dough is like a thick sticky paste. The end results are light, fluffy cookies, which are moist and delicious. Happy baking everyone!