DELICIOUS POKE CAKES: 80 Super Simple Desserts with an Extra Flavor Punch in Each Bite by Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
PURCHASE: link
AUTHORS' SITE: link
MY GRADE:

FROM PUBLISHER: Poke cakes mean year-round fun and flavor. No stress--just rave reviews. From the authors of Delicious Dump Cakes, this collection of fifty tested recipes is a quick, easy guide to delicious desserts. Begin with a baked cake, prepared from a box mix, or use one of the cake recipes included. Poke holes in the baked cake with a fork, the handle of a wooden spoon, or a skewer so all of the goodness and flavor can soak into the cake. Then just pour pudding, a topping, glaze, gelatin, or sauce over the cake and let the flavor seep into every crevice and permeate every morsel of cake. Finish it off with a luscious, creamy whipped topping or frosting and suddenly that everyday cake is new, unique, and oh-so-inviting, with an extra flavor punch in every bite.



THINGS I'VE MADE

CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER POKE CAKE


I made the Homemade Quick and Easy Chocolate Cake recipe instead of using a boxed cake mix like all the recipes state to do. The cake is extremely moist but it needed a lot more salt than called for. I made half in a 9"x1.5" round pan and it baked in 22 minutes. This exact cake recipe is one I've made several times before. This one called for a little more cocoa powder than I felt it should so I used 1.5 tablespoons less, so I used just 4T. for half a cake.

The peanut butter sauce wasn't at all 'pourable' like the recipe said it would be so I had to use a lot more milk (I used milk in place of cream since I didn't have any) and it still wasn't pourable and it didn't seep way down into the holes like shown in the photo in the book. It tastes very good. I didn't make the chocolate frosting recipe in the book because it had too much chocolate in it so I made my own chocolate glaze for this.

The cake was excellent and the peanut butter filling was good but because it didn't seep into the holes properly I won't use the poke method but will continue to make this cake, minus the filling.


MY THOUGHTS: I've only made one recipe out of this book but the book is filled with very simple recipes that take basic skills. They give you one from scratch recipe for chocolate cake, white, and yellow cake. The recipes use store bought boxed cake mix but you can use their homemade recipes in place of boxed.

There's a great variety of recipes and flavorings: Make Your Own Cakes, All-Time Favorite Poke Cakes, Chocolate Poke Cakes, Flavorful Poke Cakes, Boozy Poke Cakes, Bundt Poke Cakes, Frostings.

There are a lot of photos but not one for each cake. The full book is in color too.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



WHO KILLED CINDY JAMES? A WOMAN'S STORY OF PERSECUTION AND TERROR by Ian Mulgrew

PUBLISHER: Seal Books, 1/1991
GENRE: Nonfiction/True Crime
SETTING: British Columbia, Canada, 1980's
PURCHASE: link and link
AUTHOR SITE: link
WIKI: link
MY GRADE: A+

FROM PUBLISHER: On May 25, 1989, Cindy James, a former nurse and social worker, disappeared. On June 8, 1989, her body was found in a vacant lot in suburban Vancouver. Her hands and feet were bound. She had a puncture wound in her right arm. Initially police investigated the case as a murder, but later claimed it to be suicide. On May 28, 1990, a coroner's jury ruled the cause of Cindy's death "indeterminate."

For nearly seven years Cindy's life had been a nightmare. At least ninety incidents had been reported to the police, including threatening phone calls, abusive notes, cut phone lines, strangled animals left in her yard, and physical and sexual assaults. Several of these events could be substantiated by coworkers or relatives who were present when they occured.

Was Cindy killed by a sadistic tormenter who is still free, or did the very real persecution drive her to stage horrifying incidents to gain the help and attention she so desperately needed? Why did all our social institutions fail her at every turn? Because one thing is certain: Cindy James's death was the result of systematic indifference and abuse on the part of the authorities-all men-who might have saved her. From difficult relationships at home to the indifference of psychiatrists and members of the police force, Cindy James's tragedy embodies a nightmare women everywhere share.


MY THOUGHTS: This is the true story of an incredibly sick woman who seems to have lost her mind when she separated from her husband in 1982. The separation and divorce was Cindy's decision. Her maiden name is Hack, married name is Makepeace, and she changed it to James after divorcing Roy. So to answer the book's question of who killed Cindy James, in my opinion she killed herself. All roads lead back to Cindy. There isn't one shread of evidence to support someone stalking or raping her but there is evidence to suggest she stalked herself. She has an above average IQ, is anorexic with breast implants, and has been hospitalized for depression and suicidal thoughts multiple times.

She died from an overdose of morphine, flurazepam, and diazepam despite the fact she was found bound with a stocking around her neck. She'd been prescribed a lot of medication for depression over the years and she appears to have been stockpiling it. Police and her family found a lot of it in her house after she died. Her family got rid of a lot of it for some unknown reason.

One or two psychiatrists predicted she'd stage an elaborate suicide to make it look like murder and damn if they weren't right. She took several medications then hog-tied herself, which can be done. All legitures on her body when she was found- around her neck, wrists, and ankles, were all loose, so loose in fact they never even left a mark on her and she had no bruses anywhere. A knot expert, Robert Chisnall, was asked by those involved in the investigation to see if he could knot legatures himself and he could indeed do it within a few minutes. From page 207: "He (Robert Chisnall) tied himself up using similar strands of nylon and found several different ways of producing the knots and simulating their tightness. He even found a way to do it with his hands and feet in front, and then rearranging the knotted stocking so that the hands appeared to have been tied from behind. Self-tying could have been effected with a minimum of effort, he said." Robert, before the experiment with tying himself, didn't think Cindy could have tied herself up but he proved himself wrong.

The book is very well written and fair. He looks at it from both angles. The book includes eight pages of black and white photos of Cindy and her family. He was "the only person given access to the personal diaries of Cindy James by her family. He has conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with her family, her ex-husband, her friends, and officials involved in the case." He also used police files and her own psychiatric files. He came to the conclusion that Cindy killed herself. Her afore mentioned diaries are unreliable. She was told by a psychiatrist to keep one as a way of expressing her feelings. When she realized they weren't going to read them, she stopped writing in them.

There's a section in the back of the book with a chronological order of all the police calls that were made by her, beginning in October 1982. She claims she was first assaulted in 1983 and she even had sticks and debris up her rectum once, page 142, "...and there was evidence that twigs were shoved up her rectum during one attack and that a cigarette had been butted out in her vagina in another." She claims that she was raped with a knife (1/27/83) though she never actually saw the knife. And I'm assuming she means she was raped with the blade. About the knife incident, page 15: "Cindy was vague on details and doctors found no evidence of rape or serious injury to her vagina." She claims that she's never seen her attackers, ever. She claims too that a dead cat that had been strangled to death with a stocking and was left at her door two different times but no one ever saw them, or so I assume, so I'm assuming there never were any actual dead cats. At least I hope that's the case. She came home once and her dog had been beaten and was bloody with a stocking around its neck, sitting in its own feces. It was the same type of stocking that was on the dead cats. Someone was with her when she got home, of course, and saw it and they stupidly assume that since the dog ran over to Cindy that Cindy couldn't have been the one who abused it in the first place. And after several assaults, including the one where she died, she had 'pinpricks' on her inner arm at the elbow, at least once it was on the right arm (she's right-handed) that was from a hypodermic needle. Some say she couldn't have done that to herself with her left hand because she's right-handed. Stupid thinking.

Edit- No one actually saw the two strangled cats and one cat that had supposedly been hit by a car and was found at her door. That information came from her own diary/log she'd been keeping.

It's proven that some of the threatening phone calls to her home were made from inside her own home. It's not a coincidence that several times she was found bound by someone who was due to be at her house later that day. How convenient. There were a few house fires at her home and they were proven to have been started from inside the home. She was hellbent on framing her ex-husband for the attacks and threatening calls and letters. What she didn't know was that when one of the fires took place not only was he out of the country, he was on another continent. And he too got a few threatening phone calls. Let's pretend Cindy really did have a stalker/tormenter. Why would he call her ex-husband? He wouldn't. It doesn't make any sense. And at least once she claimed someone threw something through her window, breaking the glass, and it was proven that the object was thrown from the inside of the house to the outside. She also claimed that while on vacation in 1981 with her husband and sister Melanie, her husband murdered and dismembered a young couple.

Cindy reminds me of Joanne Chambers, a Pennsylvania school teacher who was stalking herself and trying to frame her female co-worker. You may know of Joanne from an episode of Forensic Files called Sealed With a Kiss.

You can read more about Cindy at the following places:

Unsolved Mysteries Wiki

Cindy's Unsolved Mysteries segment called Scared to Death, originally aired 2/13/91, season 3, episode 20 , rebroadcast 7/17/2009 on Spike.




EASY COOKIE RECIPES: 103 Best Recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies, Cake Mix Creations, Bars, and Holiday Treats Everyone Will Love by Addie Gundry

PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Griffin, 11/2017
GENRE: Cookbooks/Baking
AUTHOR SITE: link
PURCHASE: link
MY GRADE: B

FROM PUBLISHER: In Easy Cookie Recipes Addie Gundry adds elegance to no-frills baking with delicious results. From Apple Pie Bars to Red Velvet Thumbprints, No-Bake Coconut Graham Cracker Cookie Bars, and the best chocolate chip cookies ever, 103 Easy Cookie Recipes shows you how to use expert tips and shortcuts to make over a hundred types of cookies, plus plenty of customizations to make these recipes your own. Once you have your baking basics down, you can explore fun inventive types of cookies. This book is a collection of 103 playful recipes that add to, change up, and make old recipes new and exciting, while maintaining what makes cookies classic. Each recipe is paired with a gorgeous, full-color photo.

Categories: Bar Cookies, Cake Mix Cookies, Fruits and Nuts, Sugar and Spice, Chocolate, Old-Fashioned, Holiday.


THINGS I'VE MADE

MONSTER COOKIES 


This is just an oatmeal peanut butter cookie that has chocolate chips in it. I followed the recipe, omitted the chocolate chips, and like usual, my doughballs barely spread out for the first batch. The photo in the book shows a very thin cookie that obviously spread nicely. I scooped out the remaining dough with a cookie scoop, placed them on a cookie sheet then flattened them with the bottom of a measuring cup and stored the dough in the refrigerator until I was ready to bake more.

I used a 1.5"/1T. scoop and got 32 doughballs. They baked in ten minutes. These taste good but are a little dry inside and because of that, I wouldn't make them again.


CHEWY CLASSIC OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES

I made half the recipe and like the peanut butter cookie from the same book, the doughballs barely spread, as you can see in the photo on the left. When I baked the rest I flattened the doughballs first and as you can see in the photo on the right, they're much flatter. The cookie is very good and is crunchy outside, like I prefer. I used a little more raisins and nuts than called for. I used one third the amount of vanilla extract, so I used 1/2t.

I used a 1.5" diameter/1T. cookie scoop and got 34 doughballs. After I baked the first batch I used the cookie scoop to scoop out the rest then flattened each one all the way with the bottom of a measuring cup.


RASPBERRY OATMEAL COOKIE BARS


These are great and have no egg in them. They have all brown sugar, no white. I omitted the cinnamon and added 1/4c. ground toasted almonds to the mix and added a drop of almond extract to the raspberry jam filling. I will definitely continue to make these.



HOMESTYLE AMISH SUGAR COOKIES


These are made with equal parts butter and vegetable oil and also have powdered sugar in them. I divided the dough in half and added lemon extract to half and dried cherries, ground almonds, and almond extract to the other half. I got 40 total. I rolled the balls in sugar after refrigerating the dough because the lemon part was soft. The directions should have told you to do that.

These don't have a lot of flavor, are a bit crumbly, and they have a little too much salt. Not worth making again.


RED VELVET THUMBPRINT COOKIES


I omitted the red food coloring and I didn't make the cream cheese filling that gets dolloped on top of the baked cookies. These have cocoa powder and butter in them and I added 1/4c. mini semisweet chocolate chips. The cookie doesn't taste very good, and there's not enough chocolate flavor in them. I made half and got thirty using a 1.5" diameter scoop. These are a huge disappointment.


MY THOUGHTS: Of the five things I've made I've only enjoyed two of them- the oatmeal cookie bars and the oatmeal raisin cookies. There are two chocolate chip cookie recipes I'd like to try one day as well as two other chocolate cookie recipes and a quite a few others, including Apple Pie Bars.

There are photos of every recipe. I don't know what cookie is on the cover because I didn't see one like it in the book and the author never responded to my message.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.