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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lemon Tart...Review

About the book:
A recipe for murder!

* 5 families living on Peregrine Circle
* 1 flowered curtain tieback
* 1 missing child
* 1 body in the field

Mix with a long list of suspects and top with two very different detectives. Increase heat until only the truth remains.

Award-winning author Josi S. Kilpack introduces a new series of culinary "cozies" that is sure to tantalize mystery lovers. In this debut volume, cooking aficionado-turned-amateur detective, Sadie Hoffmiller, tries to solve the murder of Anne Lemmon, her beautiful young neighbor - a single mother who was mysteriously killed while a lemon tart was baking in her oven. At the heart of Sadie's search is Anne's missing two-year-old son, Trevor. Whoever took the child must be the murderer, but Sadie is certain that the police are looking at all the wrong suspects - including her!

Armed with a handful of her very best culinary masterpieces, Sadie is determined to bake her way to proving her innocence, rescuing Trevor, and finding out exactly who had a motive for murder.

A lot of fun. I'm not normally a big fan of mysteries, but I'm a big fan of Josi Kilpack. Lemon Tart is simply a fun book to read.

Sadie Hoffmiller is one of those neighbors you wish you had living next door. A widow whose children are raised, Sadie loves to cook and bake and look out for her neighbors. When Anne Lemmon, a young, single mother moves into the neighborhood, Sadie becomes her friend and mentor. When Anne is tragically murdered while a lemon tart bakes in her oven, Sadie decides to begin her own investigation. Anne's young son is missing and Sadie is convinced that the police detectives aren't able to solve the murder and find Trevor.

Josi has given us a cast of interesting characters and blended the story so well, that I didn't have the actual murderer figured out until the very end. Sadie is delightful and you just want to laugh out loud at her antics and thought processes as she trips up the detectives and forms her own opinions and conclusions.

A simply delightful read. Light, but not fluffy and packed full of delicious recipes that I'm determined to try. I'm excited that this is part of a series. Sadie is someone I want to visit again.

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 4/09

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Photo used with permission from Rosehaven Cottage.


1: the act of giving thanks
2: a prayer expressing gratitude
3: a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness

"To express gratitude is gracious and honorable, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven."  --Thomas S. Monson

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Simply From Scratch...Review

About the book:
A luminous, tender-hearted debut novel about a young widow, a nine-year-old girl, and a baking contest that will change both their lives.

Rose-Ellen “Zell” Carmichael Roy wears her late husband Nick’s camouflage apron even when she’s not in the kitchen. She can’t remember the last time she wore a bra, and she speaks to her dog in the voice of a pirate. That’s her widow style.

It’s been over a year since Nick died tragically during a post-Katrina relief mission in New Orleans. Long enough, according to the grief pamphlets, to have begun moving on with her life. But Zell is still unable to enter her attic, which is full of Nick memories. She hasn’t even turned on her oven because cooking was Nick’s chore. That is, until she decides to enter celebrity chef Polly Pinch’s first annual Desserts that Warm the Soul baking contest, hoping to win the $20,000 grand prize to donate to Katrina survivors in Nick’s honor.

Meanwhile, in the adjacent apartment of Zell’s two-family house, nine-year-old Ingrid Knox is learning to cope with the loneliness of growing up without a mother. With an imagination as big as her heart, Ingrid treasures her doting father but begins to plot how she will meet her mother, whom she fiercely believes is Polly Pinch.

When an embarrassing baking mishap brings Zell and Ingrid together, they form an unlikely friendship that will alter both of their lives forever. Together, and with the help of a lively and loveable cast of friends and family, they embark on winning the Desserts that Warm the Soul contest – and learn that through the many sorrows and joys of life, with a little bit of flour and a pinch of love, anything is possible.

I loved the cover and it was about cooking.  How could I go wrong?  I couldn't.  Quirky characters and a cooking contest add a bit of lightness to what could be a heavy, depressing topic of grief and recovery.  Instead, it's a sweet story about friendship and recreating a life after a devastating loss.  I liked Zell.  I loved Ingrid.

The story wraps up neatly, but wasn't completely predictable.  It's first person for Zell and present tense for everyone else, which is so awkward.  When I started it, I kept wondering where it was going to do and what the purpose was.  Once I let myself simply enjoy the ride and gave up trying to figure things out, I appreciated the story.

The Katrina tragedy was a terrific backdrop, revealing that service and help are still ongoing and needed in New Orleans.  I think this is a terrific debut novel.  I loved that Alicia Bessette included the contest recipe at the end of the book! 

Thanks to my local library for having a copy I could borrow.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Love Goddess' Cooking School...Review

About the book:
Camilla's Cucinotta: Italian Cooking Classes
Fresh take-home pastas and sauces daily
Benvenuti (Welcome!)

Holly Maguire's grandmother was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine–a Milanese fortune teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can't make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that's why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla's Cucinotta, she's determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother's legacy.

But Holly's four students are seeking much more than how to make Camilla's chicken alla Milanese. Simon, a single father, hopes to cook his way back into his daughter's heart. Juliet, Holly's childhood friend, hides a painful secret. Tamara, a serial dater, can't find the love she longs for. And twelve-year-old Mia thinks learning to cook will stop her dad from marrying his phony lasagna-queen girlfriend.

As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla's essential ingredients of wishes and memories into every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed–and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.

So many books that are filled with multiple women bonding over some hobby are cliched, predictable and shallow.  This one isn't.  It is, quite simply, delightful.  I love Holly. (She has such a great name!)  When she takes her broken heart back to Maine, her grandmother welcomes her home.  Just as she is becoming comfortable, her grandmother passes away and she's left to find herself on her own.  Armed with her grandmother's recipe book, kitchen and diaries, Holly leaps headlong into a new life.  

Camilla's essential ingredients were wishes and memories and it's when Holly begins choosing which wishes and memories to add to her recipes, that she discovers what she wants out of life.   

The narration evokes familiarity.  I think most people have memories which involve food and the preparation of food. So much of Holly's story takes place in the kitchen: her grandmother's kitchen and then hers.  My family isn't Italian (we're Scotch/English), but we love cooking and I have many fond memories of cooking with my mother and grandmother.  Most of the significant discussions of my youth happened in the kitchen while my mom and I were cooking.    

There is one unnecessary instance of the F word, and some pre-marital sex, but without all the details, thank goodness!    

With quirky characters and a charming heroine, this is a delicious story of friendship, love and discovery.

Thanks to Simon & Shuster for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Melissa Senate here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 10/10

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Old Apron

A friend forwarded this email to me. I don't forward emails, but I loved this. Especially since I am an apron girl! I wear one every day and my boys often need to remind me to take it off when we get in the car to go someplace. I wish I knew to whom I should give the credit for writing this.  It consistently has high traffic and is a much visited post.  I think it resonates with many of us!

(Notice that a "Medium" is a size 14-16)

I don't think our kids know what an apron is.

The principal use of Grandma's apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder removing hot pans from the oven.

It was wonderful for drying children's tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.

From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.

When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids...

And when the weather was cold Grandma wrapped it around her arms.

Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.

Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.

From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.

In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.

When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.

When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folk knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.

It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that 'old-time apron' that served so many purposes.

Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters now set theirs on the window sill to thaw.

They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron!

I don't think I ever caught anything from an apron but love...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Freezing Apples

We love apple pie, but I don't love canned apple pie filling.  I prefer my apples tart and firm when I make apple pie.  Several years ago, I purchased some frozen apples which were overpriced, but fantastic.  It was so nice having them in my freezer and they cooked up just perfectly.  I decided that I could freeze my own, and I have done so, successfully.

Right now, apples are on sale.  My aunt brought me some local apples and I purchased some Granny Smith's which are my preferred apple of choice for pie. I just mixed these all up.

I spent a happy hour peeling and chopping apples to freeze.  My Dutch Apple Pie recipe takes about 8 cups of chopped apples, so I froze the apples in batches of 8 cups.  I sprinkled the cut apples with lemon juice and sealed them in my food saver.  Some started to turn brown by the time I was finished, but it won't matter once they're all cooked up.

When I make pie, I just take out the bag of apples and let it thaw for about half an hour and then prepare the pie as usual.

This post has been shared on Unprocessed Fridays, Real Food Wednesday

Friday, November 5, 2010


I am an apron girl.  I put on an apron almost as soon as I am dressed.  I wear it all day long and I often forget to take it off.  I can't tell you how many times I get into the car to go somewhere, only to have one of my boys remind me that I still have an apron on!

Some will call aprons old-fashioned.  That is just fine with me.  Aprons protect my clothes and I love the pocket that lets me put things into it as I go through the house and find stuff that needs to be tossed or put away.

I don't like half-aprons.  They're a waste.  I need full aprons that cover my front and protect me from stains.

Last Christmas, my mom made me an apron for every holiday. I have Valentines Day, St. Patrick's Day and Easter.  I have 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I even have one for birthdays and back to school.  The back to school one has little owls and rulers and school supplies on it!  Mom even made me two kid-sized aprons that my boys wear when they help in the kitchen.

I have one for BSU and one that is grapes.  I grew up in an area of California where grapes and vineyards are plentiful and beautiful.  Grapes always remind me of my hometown.

I've collected other aprons over the years, including this one I purchased in a market in Florence, Italy and the chocolate one I got from The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store a gazillion years ago.

Many are stained, but all get used regularly whether I'm working in the kitchen or somewhere else around my home.  They hang in my pantry for easy accessibility!

What about you?  Do you use aprons?  Do you have a favorite one? Are they too old-fashioned for you?