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Brief Review. Liberty or Death: A Thea Kozak Mystery by Kate Flora

Liberty or Death: A Thea Kozak Mystery by Kate Flora

Another or Flora’s books that feature Thea Kozak a competent business woman who is put in a difficult situation – the kidnapping of her groom on her wedding day – and who rises tot he situation to triumph (of course). The story involves right-wing militia in Maine, and gets somewhat heavy-handed and appears to be adhering to a formula as it progresses. A happy but not very subtle ending. This turned out to be more of an adventure story than a mystery.

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Selected Items from the Scout Report, October 2, 2015

Street musicians, Spain Some items from the current Scout Report. See all the items in this issue in  Scout Report of October 2, 2015.

  • Encyclopedia Virginia


    For educators teaching the history of the early United States and the history of Virginia, Encyclopedia Virginia is a cornucopia of primary sources, as well as commentaries, blog posts, and other information. Readers may want to begin with the featured resources on the landing page, such as the history of Indians in Virginia, and an article about the United States Colored Troops (USCT), an African American branch of the U.S. Army that was founded in 1863. The A-Z Index of the encyclopedia allows for easy browsing. For instance, selecting “H” reveals an entry on Thomas Hariot which then links to his book, A briefe and true report of the new found land of Virginia, and offers valuable perspective on the work and its context. Readers may also enjoy the Blog on the site, which boasts many erudite entries on topics such as whether the U.S. Constitution was a racist document. [CNH]

  • Yummy Math


    For educators who are continually looking for up-to-date, real-world examples of how mathematics impacts daily life, Yummy Math is a welcome ally. In fact, every article on the site seeks to link math to what is “relevant to our world today.” For instance, a recent article presented some of the math-related possibilities for the upcoming release of the new iPhone 6S and 6S plus, suggesting that students explore past iPhone launch sales data in order to predict sales for the new model using bar graphs and scatter plots. Educators can scout the site by Genres (Holidays and Annual Events, Math and Food, Math and Science, Math and Social Studies, and others), as well as by grade level. While all activities are freely accessible, some educators may select to sign up for a membership, which provides extra services, such as solutions to activities, access to a wider variety of resources, and access to teaching tips.[CNH]

  • KeepVid


    The premise of KeepVid could not be simpler. Just copy and paste a link from YouTube, Vimeo, SoundCloud, DailyMotion, and other supported sites and select Download. The program then downloads the video or audio onto the user’s computer free of charge. While KeepVid is safe and legal, readers will want to be careful about how they use their downloaded content. For instance, downloading the latest Taylor Swift video to one’s computer is legal. However, using that video for profit or any public purpose is usually a violation of copywrite laws. Nevertheless, for readers who would like to download their favorite videos from YouTube and other sites, KeepVid is an excellent resource. [CNH]

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Recipe. Marriane’s Peach and Frangipane Galette

cap canaille cassis france It is near the end of summer here in Fredericksburg, VA but there are still plenty of peaches available at the farmers markets. I’ve used the recipes in Fields of Greens: New Vegetarian Recipes From The Celebrated Greens Restaurant
by Annie Sommerfield for years to make blueberry and peach pie. This year I used the pie crust from Debra Madison’s book
Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market for the pie crust. But Madison’s book also contains a recipe for almond frangipane and this galette with the pastry and galette recipes in her book and as modified as mention in the previous posts. This galette is wonderful!

1/2 the recipe for pastry/galette
1/2 the recipe for almond frangipane
1 1/2 peaches
1 Tablespoon of butter
1 teaspoon of honey

Preheat oven to 400.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel (if necessary) and slice the peaches into a bowl.
Roll out the dough into a circle about 11 or 12 inches across and transfer to the baking sheet. It will overlap the edges.
Spread the frangipane with 2 inches of the edges of the dough.
Lay the peaches over the frangipane.
Flop the dough over the fruit letting it overlap.
Melt the butter and honey together
Brush the dough with the butter and honey mixture.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes. Turn down heat to 350 and cook another 10 to 20 minutes until the crust is a nice brown color. Cool some before slicing. Then enjoy. (This is so good!)

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Recipe. Almond Frangipane

Street in Marseille, France I love almond flavored pastries, especially almond croissants, and have been intrigued by frangipane. SO I was especially happy to see a recipe for almond frangipane in Debra Madison’s book Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market. This recipe makes enough for two galettes or tarts, It keeps in the refrigerator for a week, Just get it to room temperature before use because it has to be spread.

  • 1 1/2 cups raw almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons flour

Mix the above in a food processor until the almonds are finely pulverized. Not quite the texture of flour, but fine.


  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup
  • 7 Tablespoons of butter

and process until smooth. Then add the following and mix using the food processor until all are incorporated in a somewhat smooth paste.

  • 1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons of amaretto or kirsch

Refrigerate until ready for use.

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Recipe. Pastry for Pies and Galettes

creek in Waraw, VA I’ve been doing some baking using the recipes in Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market
by Debra Madison. The recipes are excellent and I’ve been making some minor modifications, primarily using maple syrup instead of sugar.

Here is the recipe for pastry that is just great as a pie crust or as the crust/dough in a galette.

From Seasonal Fruit Deserts by Deborah Madison, with a slight variation

Pastry for pies or galettes

Done in a food processor

  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup ( original recipe calls for sugar)
  • 12 Tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) of frozen (original calls for cold) unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vinegar
  • 5 – 6 tablespoons of ice water (I fill a cup with ice cubes ad add cold water)

Add flour, salt to a food processor and pulse once or twice.

Add maple syrup, egg yolk, and vinegar to food processor, pulsing once or twice after adding each.

Add butter in three or four batches to food processor pulsing or chopping until butter is in chunks the size of small peas. Don’t chop it too much, you want to be able to see the butter pieces int he dough.

Add water a little at a time until dough holds together – so it can be pressed in your hand into a dough, not a loose collection of ingredients that will fall apart.

Remove from the food processor and divide the dough into two equal pieces.

Flatten each with your hands, wrap in waxed paper or plastic wrap, and put in refrigerator or freezer until future use as a pie crust or the crust for a galette.


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Brief review. Strange Shores: An Inspector Erlendur Novel by Arnaldur Indridason

Strange Shores: An Inspector Erlendur Novel (An Inspector Erlendur Series) by Arnaldur Indridason

The latest in the Inspector Erlendur series by Indridason. These setting for these books is Iceland. The previous ones primarily take place in Reykjavík. This takes place in the eastern part of Iceland, in the rural area where Erlendur grew up and lost his brother in a snowstorm. The previous books have a backdrop of Erlendur’s concern and depression related to having been lost in blizzard with his brother and father. He and his father were found, but never a trace of his brother. This may be the last book in this series as Erlendur resolves this issue.

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Interview of Oliver on The Blog That Celebrates Itself

APtBS posterA long interview of Oliver by a fan who really loves A Place to Bury Strangers. The Blog That Celebrates Itself: Exploding Heads with A Place to Bury Strangers – An Interview.

Another good, long interview of Oliver. “my first memories are actually moving to Virginia where I grew up with very loving parents and a brother that I get along with very well.”

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Selected sites from Internet Scout Report, August 7, 2015.

Thyme in garden at home, Stafford, VA The Internet Scout is an excellent, long standing publication on the Web. It has been published every Friday since 1994. Each week a number of sites are reviewed. The emphasis is often on sites that are appropriate for research. Here are a few from the August 7, 2015 report.

  • The Webby Awards


    The Internet is big. Really big. In fact, as of the time of this writing, there are over 900 million websites to navigate on the World Wide Web. So how do you choose the best, the most innovative, the most useful, the most beautiful? Every year, the Webby Awards does just that. Readers will find much to explore on the Webby Awards’ website. The site can be scouted by category, including Special Achievement, Websites, Online Film & Video, Advertising & Media, Mobile Sites & Apps, and Social. Within each category, awards are meted out by subcategory. For instance, within Websites, there are awards for Art, Best use of Photography, Best User Experience, and many others. For a trip down memory lane, the site can also be searched by year, all the way back to 1997. While not all winners of the Webby Awards are equally academic, there are plenty of interesting and educational website recommendations for Scout Readers on the site. [CNH]

  • Community Service Society Photographs


    With almost 1,400 images ranging from the 1880s to the 1950s, the Community Service Society Photographs at Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library “offer representations of urban poverty, unsafe tenement housing, inadequate hygiene in public areas, and other pressing social issues in late-19th and early-20th century New York.” Readers may like to begin with the Featured Topics tab, where they can explore the collection through categories such as Children, Girls, Boys, Women, Men, Interiors, Buildings, House Furnishings, and Streets. In addition, the Places tab offers images from over two dozen locations, with the bulk of them orbiting the Lower East Side, Red Hook, Saugerties, and Little Italy. Readers may also scout the dozens of Topics, which include everything from Abandoned Buildings to Memorials to Plumbing. [CNH]

  • The Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments


    In the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments – which exists only online, under a Creative Commons license – readers will find a panoply of imaginative inventions, from the Torturetron (from the film script of the Adventures of Baron Munchausen) to Les Paul’s Les Paulverizer. Readers may like to begin with the About section, which includes a fascinating exegesis of the site’s undergirding assumptions, before moving on to the exhibitions. These include spectacles in the general categories of Abstract Resonators, Acousmatic Instruments, Auditory Extensions, Giganticism, and others. Each instrument is accompanied by the textual or visual reference from which it was drawn and a concomitant image or explanation. This imaginative site must be seen to be believed. [CNH]

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Brief review. The Minotaur’s Head: An Inspector Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski

The Minotaur’s Head: An Inspector Mock Investigation by Marek Krajewski

One of the cover reviews stated that this is “as noir as it gets.” No objection to that assessment. An interesting, but dark, male view of the world in Poland of the 1930s. There’s a mystery to be solved about a sordid murder. he investigators are conservative, but typical white collar operatives, men with large appetites for women, food, and drink. Some of the scenes in the story take place in Lwow, Poland and include many of the mathematicians of that famous school of mathematicians, see . Names I learned in graduate school and whose work I studied tangentially – Mazur, Banach, Ulam, and Kac. I’m looking forward to reading other books by Krajewiski

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Brief review. The Last Taxi Ride: A Ranjit Singh Novel by A. X. Ahmad

The Last Taxi Ride: A Ranjit Singh Novel by A. X. Ahmad

Taking place in New York City we’er led through the lives of the emigre Indian and Pakistani population. This view of NY was unknown to me, but Ahmad makes it entirely plausible as well as presenting a story that contains suspense and danger with what I’d say is a Bollywood flair. It was an interesting read, although the mystery was solvable and knowable to the reader, but that is a certain style of story telling, isn’t it?

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