25 March 2011

Book Review No. 46


A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer


Summary: A Child Called It is the unforgettable account of one of the most severe child abuse cases in California history. It is the story of Dave Pelzer, who was brutally beaten and starved by his emotionally unstable, alcoholic mother: a mother who played torturous, unpredictable games--games that left him nearly dead. He had to learn how to play his mother's games in order to survive because she no longer considered him a son, but a slave; and no longer a boy, but an "it." Dave's bed was an old army cot in the basement, and his clothes were torn and raunchy. When his mother allowed him the luxury of food, it was nothing more than spoiled scraps that even the dogs refused to eat. The outside world knew nothing of his living nightmare. He had nothing and no one to turn to, but his dreams kept him alive--dreams of someone taking care of him, loving him, and calling him their son. Through each struggle you'll find yourself enduring his pain, comforting his loneliness and fighting for his will to survive. This compelling story will awaken you to the truth about child abuse--and the ability we all have to make a difference. (taken from the back of the book)


My Critique: Wow. This book left me emotionally depleted. It's non-fiction and I generally don't read non-fiction but I picked this book up since the Hubs and I are almost to the end of our journey to become foster parents. I was hoping this book would give me a good look into the mind of an abused child to better equip me to foster parent a potentially abused child. Be careful what you ask for! This book is a no-holds-barred look at the disgusting things done to Dave Pelzer by his mother. Sick mind games such as starving him for days and even forcing him to vomit after he got home from school to check to see if he had eaten anything at school--and if he had she forced him to eat the vomit--there was alos a time when she forced him to eat the feces out of his baby brother's diaper................and that's perhaps the least offensive things she did. I caution you to be ready for this emotional read but I will tell you that it is well worth reading--I think we could all use a little insight into the true torment a child suffers when they are abused at the hands of the ones who are supposed to be protecting them. Truly eye-opening. Anyone who works with abused children in any way, shape, or form could benefit from reading this. This is book one in a three-part series. I have the second book and will begin reading it soon.


I'll skip my "disclaimer" this time--I don't want to make jokes or seem lighthearted because at this very moment, just seconds after reading the last page, my heart feels as if it weighs a thousand pounds.

24 March 2011

Heart for Haiti

Hey folks! My sweet 7-year-old niece is raising money to build houses in Haiti. She has raised $8,700 so far!! Go visit her blog to follow her progress:

http://taylorsheartforhaiti.blogspot.com

12 March 2011

Breakfast/Brunch Casserole

My good friend Miles was coming over for breakfast today so I wanted to create a new breakfast casserole. This one is most definitely a keeper for breakfast, brunch, or heck, even dinner. Ragan said it's the best casserole I've ever made across the board. High praise. So here ya go:

6 slices bread (*see note below)
1 package Velveeta crumbles cheese
1 lb sausage (I used Jimmy Dean Sage...OMG! it was so good!!)
1 small to medium red bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cups milk
8 eggs
1 pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste (about 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of each)

*Note: Instead of just boring plain bread, I used a fresh loaf of specialty bread from the local grocery store. I just used about 3/4 of it...just use enough to cover the bottom of the casserole dish...this really added to the dish.

Tear or cut bread into small/medium cubes. Place in bottom of a 13x9 casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Brown sausage, bell pepper, and onion in a skillet. Drain off any grease. Pour over the bread. Top with cheese. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and cayenne until well blended. Pour mixture over bread/sausage/cheese in the casserole dish.

Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

That's it. So incredibly easy and super delicious!!

11 March 2011

Red Beans & Rice Recipe (for those of us who don't like Red Beans & Rice)

I don't like red beans and rice...I know, I know...they're revoking my Louisiana citizenship as we speak...because on top of that I also don't like crawfish. *insert collective gasp of the masses here* I don't really know why I don't like red beans and rice...maybe it was because we had them so often for school lunch--"favorite red beans and rice" with that one piece of nasty sausage, turnip greens and cornbread. But if we're gonna go with that theory I don't know how to explain that I do like turnip greens and cornbread.

So there you have it. Not a fan of red beans and rice. I always want to like them but never do. That is until I developed this recipe. I looked at a ton of recipes, asked my dad how he makes his, and then took little bits and pieces from here and there and added my own stuff to make this recipe. I have to say, it was pretty tasty. And to test out the quality I sent some to my friend Eloise (an older black lady who cooks the best soul food) and she said, "You not supposed to cook like this. You white. You people not supposed to make good soul food like this." LOL So there ya have it...if that's not a testament to this recipe I give up...

Red Beans & Rice for those of us who don't like Red Beans & Rice
1 lb bag of small red beans
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
3 or 4 ribs celery, chopped
6 cups chicken broth
1 package sausage (I used a mild andouille and it was delish)
3 bay leaves
2 pinches cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon minced garlic (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans in cold water for 8 hours or overnight. Any bad beans will float to the top. Remove bad beans and drain water from the rest.

Fill large stock/soup pot with 6 cups chicken broth. Add beans. Bring to a boil then lower to simmer. Add the bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Pan-fry sausage and remove--do not add to beans at this point. In same pan, add a pat of butter and sauté onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Sauté until tender-crisp. Add to beans. Pour 1 cup water (or additional chicken broth) into pan and stir to deglaze (deglaze=get all the yummy goodness hanging out in the bottom of the sauté pan). You can do this step 1/2 cup at a time so you're actually deglazing twice, or you can do it all at once--up to you. Pour deglazed juice into beans (this is all the flavor so don't skip this step!). Add sausage to beans. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours stirring occasionally. Remove 3/4 cup beans (only beans and veggies...no sausage) and mash with a fortk then add back to the pot (this will help thicken them). Simmer uncovered for 30 more minutes.

Serve over rice with homemade cornbread on the side.

YUM!! (tip: these freeze well so don't worry about making too much)

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