Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Egg Roll Innards!

Sunday night just as I was about to fire up the grill, the skies opened, lightning flashed and the universe decided that I would NOT be cooking outside. I had already planned our meal and did not really have a back-up plan, so once again I was forced to punt.  I looked to see what was available for a really quick supper.  I found a head of cabbage in the laundry room fridge that was on its last leg, and I had a couple of cooked chicken pieces on the bone along with about a cup of scrappy bits that had fallen off a chicken carcass I used for broth making.  Thankfully I remembered seeing a Pinterest post about making  wrapper-less egg rolls. ( Philosophical question here:  Is is possible to have wrapper-less egg rolls since the wrap defines the  roll?)  I could have searched Pinterest, but I was feeling lazy so I pulled out an old recipe I have had for years for the real thing and figured I could do whatever adjustments I needed to for it to be Whole 30 compliant.

                                                             Egg Roll Innards

1 medium onion, julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch knob of fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon olive oil ( the original recipe uses peanut oil for its high smoking point)
1 lb ground pork ( I used minced chicken instead)
1 small head of cabbage, coarsely grated or chopped ( can use a combination of regular cabbage and boy choy)
3 carrots, peeled and grated
1 whole bamboo shoot, grated ( Use the canned stuff, it works fine)
I cup bean sprouts (didn't have any so didn't use any)
1 small can water chestnuts, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce or coconut aminos (for the whole 30 thing)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste ( err on the side of too much rather than too little)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Chow mein noodles ( those in a can or bag)

Heat the oil in a skillet of wok. Begin sautéing the onion first, then add the garlic and cook them until they are both crisp tender.  Add the garlic, give the pan a couple of quick stirs and remove the aromatics form the pan. ( If using a wok just push them up very high on the side of the pan) Add the raw ground pork and cook until it loses its pink. (If using cooked chicken just let it slightly warm and then remove it )  Remove it from the pan and toss in the cabbage and remaining vegetables in.  Cook stirring the whole time until they are crisp tender.  Add the onion mixture and meat back into the pan and add the chicken broth and soy sauce.  Stir, then add the remaining ingredients. Cook until the cabbage is the texture you would like.  Serve in bowls over chow mein noodles or just in a bowl to be honest to the whole 30 program. ( Living honest here in a different way, I had no chow mein noodles so TheHub ate his over pita chips)

I was really surprised at how tasty this was.  Ours was a little overcooked because some nameless people who eat here do not believe when I tell them supper will be up in 10,  means 10 minutes not 25.  Keeping cabbage warm for an additional 15 minutes changes the texture.  Other than being a tad too done it was delicious and tastes pretty much like the innards of a traditional egg roll.  Next time I will use ground pork since it it what is used most often and the pork flavor would enhance the cabbage.  I also think I will add a little more ginger and another 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil.

If you need to punt one night this is a pretty decent thing to put with.

p.s. you might have noticed the red peppers in the picture.  I had one small red bell pepper that was about to die in the crisper drawer, so I chunked it up and tossed it in the last few minutes of cooking time as an afterthought.

Go think outside the box and cook something delicious!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Free Book from Sonya Ann

Guess what I will be reading next, a free book.  Yep a completely, totally, free, just published book.  You can read it too!  I read the blog A Mom, Money and More on a regular basis.  Today there was a special surprise on her blog.  She is offering her new book free to the whole world ( As long as you live in the United States ) for a few days.  If you feel like snagging the book click  right here.

Happy Reading

Friday, January 23, 2015

Spicy Tuna Cakes Whole30

Christmas is over and the goose has gotten fat (ter) so now it is back to the Whole30 super restricted paleo routine.  I am kind of surprised but this time it has not been as difficult to start.  Some of that might be because I know what I need in advance and I started cooking ahead of time.  I have freshly made broth, super concentrated in little packages in the freezer, likewise for paleo ketchup, mayonnaise, and thai chili sauce.  This weekend I am finishing barbecue sauce  ( have to finish the date paste first) and paleo non- peanut sauce.  I also have vegetables I know I will need bought and semi prepped so meal time cooking will be faster.

Another thing I learned last time is that I will feel less inclined to cheat if I eat tasty food.  I am a pretty creative cook in my own right, but this is a different ingredient list and different method than I am used to.  I am not at all above searching the internet for tried and true delicious recipes.  Right now my favorite stop is Nom Nom Paleo.  Not all of her dishes are Whole30 compliant, but some tweaking makes nearly everything on her blog work, plus nearly all of them look like something I would like to try.

While I was in my cooking frenzy on Day 1, I came across this recipe.  It makes a bunch and is supposed to last a few days in the fridge, but I put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer so they are individually frozen. Then I stacked them with waxed paper (squares cut from the bags inside cereal boxed) and put them in one bag.  Will let you know later if it works.

                                                            Spicy Tuna Cakes

3 tablespoons melted ghee (divide 1 tablespoon for greasing the pan and 2 tablespoons for the recipe)
2  5oz. cans of water packed albacore tuna, drained
3 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 full teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper ( I used 2 tablespoons but we like heat)
1 1/3 cup mashed baked sweet potato
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste ( I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
black pepper ( about 4 turns of the peppermill )
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard ( not original to the recipe but I thought it needed it)
lemon wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Melt the ghee and set 2 tablespoons aside ( You can probably use any Whole 30 compliant oil here but I followed the recipe mostly) Use 1 tablespoon for greasing a 12 regular size muffin tin.  (I read the comment section under the recipe and there were a few people who had trouble getting the muffins out of the pan, so I opted to go ahead and put mine on a greased cookie sheet.  They were more pancake looking than muffinish, but they didn't stick so it worked for me.  If you want the directions for filling the muffin tins click on the link above.)

In a medium bowl mix the ingredients in order making sure everything is well blended.  Using a spoon put 12 equal sized portions  ( appx, 1/4 cup) of the the tuna mix on/in your well greased pan of choice.  If using a baking sheet, press the topside of the mound so each "patty" is an even thickness. Pop the tuna into the oven and bake about 20-25 minutes. Nom Nom Paleo suggests using the inserted toothpick method to judge the doneness.  Since mine were thinner I just relied on the finger test.  When they felt "solid" to the touch I took them out of the oven. I didn't have the density for the toothpick test.

Either serve them hot from the oven or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 1 week.  Reheat and eat.

I had these for lunch yesterday ( the day after they were made).  They were cold from the refrigerator so I heated 2 teaspoons of coconut oil in a small skillet and crisped them.  They were thin enough that it only took a couple of  minutes on the first side and maybe a minute on the second.  I served them with a squeeze of lemon.  For the picture I put a small dollop of mayonnaise sprinkled with paprika.on the   I intended to scrape it off before I ate it, but didn't.  It was delicious.  I really don't think I can thank Nom Nom Paleo enough.  I will make sure I have this available for the duration of the challenge!

If you want something easy, delicious and pretty good for you try this!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Book Review Week 3 "Still Alice"

I read the book Still Alice  by Lisa Genova over the weekend. Actually I read in over 2 nights and could barely put it down. ( 2 nights only if you count reading until 4:30 a.m. as night time reading)  The book captured me from the beginning page and didn't let up until it was over.  Truth be told, I'm not sure it has released me from its grip yet because I am still thinking about it daily.

Dr Alice Howland enjoys a life that many of us would envy.  She is a brilliant Harvard Linguistics Professor.  Her life consists of teaching, speaking engagements, world-wide conferences, homes in Cambridge and the shore, and her family (Equally brilliant husband, attorney daughter, M.D. son, and youngest want- to- be actress daughter). She is enjoying being fifty and fit, until running her usual route one day, she becomes disoriented and has no idea how to get home.

This is the first she sees in a recurring pattern of forgetfulness of names, words, and ideas.  It forces her to seek medical attention, since she is fifty and thinks this is most likely associated with menopause. After a series of appointments and tests, she finds her thinking was incorrect when she is diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers.

The book then begins to travel the path of both Alice's and her family's struggles with the disease.
It impacts each of them differently and the family dynamics are forever changed.

It is interesting to see how a very intelligent woman develops coping skills as she struggles first to delay the progress of the disease and secondly to maintain control over her life as it becomes harder and harder to do.

Since Alzheimers impacts so many families I really do think this is well worth reading, just to see how a patient feels and the emotionally charged battle daily living becomes. Other than reading it for the Alzheimers insight it is just a dang fine book.  Well written and descriptive, it never gets bogged down with excess details.  (Ever counted Pat Conroy's adjectives when describing a river?)*

If you have time to spare pick it up, but don't blame me if you are still reading in the wee hours of the morning.

* I think Pat Conroy is a fantastic writer, especially The Great Santini.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1 Cup of Turkey= Dinner For 5 or Turkey Souffle

I have been reading several blogs dailyish for the past year or so, and occasionally find a new one by following a commenter who posted in the comment section. (Yes I read those too, and have gotten some pretty cool ideas from them.)  It is a simple adventure it find what is just one click away.

One of those I recently started following is All That Junk In My Trunk  This week she had a post about vintage cookbooks and how what is now the norm was once thought of as exotic.  That prompted me to pull out my grandmother's old cookbook and look through it. I love this book, but I am very careful when looking at it.  It is old and falling apart, but has additional recipes and comments about dishes written in Grandmother's hand throughout the book.

Huge surprise!  A cookbook from 1939 is not drastically different from some of the cookbooks today. It seems that in the 30's buying local and cooking "real" food was the norm. There were a few surprises though, like the recipe for Potted Pigeon  ( It would probably be called Braised Squab in Beurre Blanc today) or Blushing Bunny (Traditional Welsh Rarebit with pureed tomatoes).

While I was looking I was making turkey broth from a pack of turkey necks my local grocer had for $1. I figured the 5 necks would give me about a gallon of broth  which I would reduce down to about a quart of super concentrated stock for much easier freezer storage.  I had all this lovely stock and about 1 cup and a half of not so lovely turkey which I removed from the bones. (OK I didn't really remove it as much as it just fell apart and all I had to do was sort through it to remove any tiny boney bits.)

When I turned to the poultry section the first recipe I saw was for Turkey Souffle'.  It was not exactly what I had in mind, but it would be a good recipe to try using the incredibly overcooked turkey.  So, try it I did. (Gettin' my Yoda on here!)

                                                      Turkey Souffle @1939

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk, turkey stock, or mixture of both
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 cup minced turkey
3 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a medium sauce pot blend the butter and flour and cook over a low heat until it forms a smooth paste, but do not brown.  Add the milk or stock and raise the heat to medium.  Stir until the mixture boils,  Add the salt, pepper, bread crumbs and lemon rind.  Cool then stir in the turkey.  Beat the egg yolks well and stir to incorporate.  Put the egg whites and baking powder in a bowl and whip the whites until they hold a stiff peak.  Fold the beaten whites into the mixture and gently pour into a well greased casserole dish.  Bake for about 1/2 hour.

To be honest this sounded a little bland to me, so I added a few things.  I always have shallots so I sauteed about a tablespoon or so and tossed it in the white sauce.  I also added about a tablespoon of dried parsley and 1/2 teaspoon dried mustard.  The sauce still tasted a bit to bland to me (maybe because I used only milk rather than a mix of broth and milk?) and I added about a teaspoon of thyme.  Huge improvement!

We were going to the lake so I made the sauce and turkey and packed it in the cooler.  All I had to do for dinner was beat the egg whites and fold them in the mixture before pouring it into a casserole.  If I had made this at home I would have put it in a souffle dish, but all I have at the lake is a 9x9 pyrex dish.  It would have been prettier served as a traditional souffle.

I honestly thought this would be a meal that was just so-so, it would provide fodder for us and I would promise to never make it again.  I was seriously surprised at how good it was.  It was nice and light, with true turkey flavor.  They all asked if we could have it again sometime, so I consider this a huge success.   I would use 1/2 milk and 1/2 broth.  It would make it a little lighter and intensify the flavor a good bit.

If you have a little turkey and a few appetites give it a try

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

2015 Week 2 Book Review "Beautiful Music For Ugly Children"

I know from my book reviews it seems as if I read only young adult books, which could not be further from the truth, but occasionally these have fantastic messages, often left out of adult literature. I heard of this book at a meeting targeting and recognizing bullying, particularly among older teens.  The reason this particular title was suggested was not about the subject matter or particulars about the central character's life, but more about the failure of the adults around in recognizing just how difficult life can be.  Since everyone in the meeting was an adult, I guess the fingers were pointing at all of us.

Beautiful Music For Ugly Children  by Kirstin Cronn-Mills is the coming of age story of the central character, Gabe,whose senior year of high school is ending. He has landed a  position as the host of a late night public radio show featuring  the music he loves (primarily old tunes).   He hopes to use it as a stepping stone to a future career in radio.   "It's 90.3 KZUK, Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, you're listening to Gabe"  We get to see Gabe's transition in real time as he begins to rid himself of his birth identity, Elizabeth (Yes, Gabe is a transgender who always knew he was supposed to be a boy)  and live the life he always knew should be his.  Since no one except for his best friends know "Elizabeth" has the job, Gabe is finally able to represent himself as the male he knows he is.  Thanks to his best friend's popularity, the show becomes a"must listen to" event and soon he has a cadre of followers who call themselves The Ugly Children Brigade.

I won't go into the finer details of the story, except to mention it is filled with conflict, from kids at school who call Elizabeth "that dyke, his conflict over his best friend, his parents refusal to believe this is anything but a stage Elizabeth is going through, and his romantic interest in a particular girl from school, as well as a public and painful "outing."

This is one of those books you will either like or hate. If you have seen bullying in any of ,its many forms then you might like this. If you believe opting to live as a different sex than you were born with is a choice, then this book is most likely not for you. If your mind is open to the concept that anomalies happen, well then give it a try  and let me know what you think of

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Halo Cutie Pie!

You know those cuties and halos that are in the grocery stores this time of year?  We have been eating them like crazy because they have been particularly sweet and juicy this year.  I have been very good about keeping them in the fruit basket this winter.

A couple of days before Christmas, I went to the store and picked up a 3 pound bag of Cuties.  Without knowing what I did, TheHub stopped by the store on his way home and bought 3 pounds of Halos. It was fine since we had been scarfing them down__ until we went to New Orleans and forgot to put them in the refrigerator.  We came home to some pretty ripe clementine/mandarins which I promptly threw in the crisper drawer and forgot about until yesterday.

Yikes, fruit that had to be used immediately and there was much more than we could possibly eat.  Then I remembered this wonderful satsuma pie* we had one day in N.O.  For those of you unfamiliar with satsumas, they are a variety of mandarin oranges.  They are virtually seedless, very juicy and have a sweet acidic flavor. Hmmm, much like the cuties and halos I had hanging out in the crisper.

                                                                   Halo Cutie Pie

Heat oven to 350 degrees

1 graham cracker crust ( bought or made, your choice)

2 tablespoons finely grated zest ( Halos, Cuties or a combination )
1 1/4 cups juice (Halos, Cuties, Tangerine?)
1 1/2 cans Sweetened condensed milk
5 egg yolks ( I only had medium, if you have large eggs just use 4)
1 tablespoon lemon juice

whipped cream for topping

Since the pie we ate was reminiscent of a lemon ice box pie, I used that as my base recipe and altered it a little. I took 3 of the ripest fruits and washed them with a non toxic produce wash I buy which strips them of any skin wax and pesticide residue.  After that I rinsed them thoroughly and dried them with a cotton dish towel ( only because those microfiber ones creep me out to touch).  A quick run over a micro plane grater left me with about 2 tablespoons of lovely zest, which I put in a bowl.  I juiced enough of the fruit to give me about 1 1/4 cups of juice which I then poured through a strainer to remove the largest pieces of pulp.

Throw all the ingredients in the bowl and beat with a mixer until the mixture is somewhat thick.  ( I tried doing this with just the orange juice at first and I don't think it was acidic enough to thicken like a lemon pie does, so I added the lemon juice.  It did thicken it a bit, but I was still worried about it holding together so I added 2 additional egg yolks.  I was using medium eggs, so I think 4 large egg yolks would work fine.  Put the prepared pie crust on a cookie sheet and pour the mixture into it.  Fill it as full as possible without over flowing.**  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the pie is "set".  Remove and let it cool to room temp, then cover and put it in the refrigerator until completely cold.

Serve cold with a dollop of whipped cream.  I am a purist and wanted unsweetened whipped cream since the pie was so sweet, but sweeten it to your taste, or squirt the stuff from an aerosol can, or  you could even use cool whip (gag! but no real judgement).

The orange flavor was delightful, but it might need another 1/2  tablespoon of lemon juice to make it add a little more tartness.  There is that fine line between adding enough without crossing over to a lemon flavor.  The consistency of the pie was somewhere between a traditional lemon icebox and a custard.  It had a really nice mouth feel and I liked the bits of orange zest in it.  I will make it again if I find I have fruit about to ruin.  It was a delicious way to salvage it!

* If you are in New Orleans, whatever you do, go eat at The High Hat on Freret.  It is a small restaurant in the Uptown district and the food is beyond delicious.  It is not on the beaten tourist path and the crowd is almost all local.  There is a reason the locals eat there!  The menu changes seasonally/weekly based on what is available.  The  dress is casual, the room is unimpressive, the service is fantastic, and the food is outstanding.  (Think mac and pimento cheese, butterscotch pecan pie, lightly cornmealed catfish,  pulled pork on a bed of cheese grits with a side of collards,  greens and goat cheese salad with figs, roasted pecans and a citrus vinaigrette just to name a few.  I want to go back and eat there again soon.)

** There will be some filling leftover.  I poured mine down the drain, but should have baked it in a couple of greased ramekins while the pie was baking.  I could have frozen them  and had a baked orange pudding later, instead I was just worried about cleaning up my mess. My best ideas usually come to me too late, so learn from my mistakes.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Resolutions for the Making and Breaking?

Since we were out of town through the 2nd, there seemed no point to start listing what I was going to do at the start of the new year.  It's kind of hard to do things at home when you are away anyhow!  Now I am back and ready to attack something as we move through this first week of '15.

Usually my first goal is to have every item of laundry ( except what is on our backs, of course) washed, dried, folded and put away before midnight of the 31st.  This year I had the home stuff done, but I had all the things we wore in N.O. stuffed in a dirty laundry bag.  Because I met the new year with dirty laundry, according to my mother, I will be covered in things to be washed all year.  I am not sure how this is different than any other year, because I never seem to be ahead when it comes to laundry chores.   Time will tell, and today is the time I begin the 2015 clothes upkeep.

I have decided to do a complete food inventory.  I know I have a very well stocked pantry and freezer, but I am not positive exactly how well stocked it is.  I have a feeling I am going to be shocked when I list each item there.  I think I keep buying and re-buying some of the same items that have gotten squirreled away in the corners of the storage areas.

Believe it or not, this is after inventory and a thorough cleaning.  I am not kidding about being overstocked and this is just one of 3 areas I store non perishables.  I may walk perilously close to that Hoarder line.  Tomorrow I tackle the closet in the laundry room and the freezer.  Just for the record and to make me feel better, I am not the only one with white sugar, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, demera sugar, organic white cane sugar, turbanido sugar, coconut sugar, confectioners sugar, super fine sugar and evaporated can juice sugar, right?

Along the food inventory lines, I am going to sit down with a loosely drawn overview of our yard and see what I can plant in my limited space.  We have neighborhood covenants restricting food gardening in spaces seen by the public.  Last year I planted green beans on the outside of one fence.  Since it has roses in front of it, and the bean vines had a lovely purple flower when blooming, no one objected.  ( I had a huge yield from those planted seeds.  One day alone I harvested about 10 pounds of beans)  I would like to find some additional food bearing plants that look ornamental for the front and side yards, possibly just herbs.  We also had huge success with okra planted on the inside of that same fence.  Once okra starts producing it has to be cut nearly everyday until the first frost.   I know I am going to try a spring lettuce garden in a raised bed, but after spring it will not get enough sun to plant anything else.  We have little luck with tomatoes with the exception of cherry tomatoes, so we have decided to only plant those this year. Besides herbs that might be all I plant, and I will just be an excellent customer at the Farmer's Market.

In addition to this I plan to do some major purging of "things".   I reduced my winter wardrobe by half and have donated most of my old purses and bags to charity.  While Son3 is still here on his Christmas break I am getting him to look through his clothes and donate anything he is no longer going to wear.  Then I am going to go room by room with a thorough deep clean and a Goodwill box.  I hope to cull at least 1/5 of the things we own.  There are things in this house that have not seen the light of day in years and it is time for them to say goodbye.

Beyond that my goals are to be kinder, and to do more service to others.  I have been blessed beyond anything I deserve and always try to give back, but this year I want to be more intentional about giving back on a regular basis.  So I guess my main goal this year is to finally recognize  and implement my mission ( whatever it is!).

Hope everyone has a wonderful year filled with awe inspiring moments.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Review week 1 2015

I received the book "The Good Girl" by  Mary Kubica for a Christmas present.  It sat by my bed for a few days before I picked it up and read the first 50 pages.  We were leaving the 29th for a trip to New Orleans which is about a 4 1/2 hour car drive, so I  thought it might be entertaining car reading.  I read the entire trip down with the exception of the car chit chat that is sometimes necessary, and was more than halfway through before we got into the city. ( It was just as well that we were there since I had lost daylight right as we hit the outer city limits.)

I would love to tell you that I was so engrossed by the book that I ran to our hotel room and told everyone else to go have fun but I had a reading appointment I had to honor.  As life and the book would have it, I enjoyed the trip and did not give the book another thought until we started home today and read until right about Tuscaloosa  ( 45 minutes outside of Birmingham) when I was finished.

From the beginning of the book we know that beautiful Mia, the daughter of a Judge and Mrs. Judge (prominent family from Chicago) has been kidnapped.  We know her kidnapper is working for someone else and he is supposed to deliver her to the mystery kidnap arranger after apprehending her.
For reasons we don't yet understand Colin, the kidnapper, decides to keep her rather than meeting the mystery man and releasing her to him.

We learn Mia is missing when a friend/ coworker calls her mother, Eve, to see if Mia is there.  After an awkward conversation we learn she has been missing for 2 days and Eve becomes frantic trying to figure out what has happened.  She calls a friend of her husband's who works on the police force and demands action even though it has not been 24 hours since they realized she was missing.  Enter Gabe, the detective assigned to her case.

Gabe finds the mother willing to do anything to find her daughter, but finds her husband ( the judge) dismissive, at first, of any efforts to try and locate Mia.  His reasoning it that she has disappeared before on a couple of occasions and this is probably just another self imposed exile somewhere.

The book is written as personal narratives from the perspectives of Colin, the kidnapper, Eve, the mother, and Gabe, the detective.  They are written out of time in voices labeled Before and After, Before meaning before Mia is located, and After obviously after she is found.

Through Colin's voice we learn about the actual kidnapping and what was going on in Colin's mind as he hatched and carried out his plan, along with everything that  transpires after he drastically alters the course of his master plan. We also hear the back story of his life and what has lead him to this really badly thought out "career path.

From Eve's viewpoint we find out all there is to know about Mia.  In the Before sections we find out about their family dynamics and about Mia's babyhood through adulthood.  We find she is the family black sheep intent on a career in art rather than the expected law career.  A constant disappointment to her father, she leaves home for good when she turns 18 and decides she knows herself much better than her father does, so she pursues a career teaching art in an indigent school. ( If the book mentioned how an 18 year old paid her way though school while supporting herself I missed it completely, but I was reading while riding and being somewhat engaged conversationally at least off and on.)

The Eve After sections deal with the trauma facing Mia, who not only doesn't remember anything about the time she was abducted and held for months, but thinks she is named Chloe.  Eve also offers some insight into Mia's father's reactions to her therapy and struggles to adjust.

Gabe also writes in the Before and After as he meets with the family and struggles with limited leads to locate Mia, and then once located to figure out exactly what happened while she was gone. Since she has almost no memory of the event he has to reconstruct things through extreme difficulty.

I am unsure how I feel about the book.  I think I was supposed to be shocked and truly there was one part I did not see coming, but I had figured out the "big reveal" pretty much after the first few chapters.  It is an enjoyable read and certainly not difficult.  I would give it a solid 3 stars.  It has a slightly above average story line, but is not a great tale.  This would be an excellent beach book because the chapters are short and easy to digest, but the book loses nothing if you put it down for a bit before continuing to read.

I am a big believer in purchasing books, because money is what keeps writers providing me with  new and different things to read.  In this case buy the book but pass it along to a couple of friends and let them buy the next decent but not great book. ( We all have those books we read again and again, right?  This is probably not one of them.)