The Skinnygirl Dish by Bethenny Frankel

The Skinnygirl DishThe Skinnygirl Dish: Easy Recipes for Your Naturally Thin Life by Bethenny Frankel
Published by Fireside, an imprint of Simon & Schuster

Bethenny Frankel, star of the Bravo TV series The Real Housewives of New York City, creator of the Skinnygirl Margarita, and bestselling author of Naturally Thin, has a no-nonsense approach to eating and cooking and in The Skinnygirl Dish, she lays it all out there for her readers – what to eat, how to cook it, basically how to make eating and cooking an easy, fun part of life. She teaches readers how to start with the basics, cook with what you have, and make recipes that are uniquely yours. And, of course, she teaches readers how to be a Skinnygirl while loving food and cooking.

I have been a fan of Bethenny’s since she was on Martha Stewart’s version of The Apprentice and I have watched her on The Real Housewives as well as on her new show, Bethenny Ever After. I think she is hysterically funny, the kind of sarcastic funny that I like to think I am on my best days, and also extremely smart and has a great attitude about life. I don’t personally love the phrase “Skinnygirl” mostly because I know that a  person does not have to be skinny to be happy, but I get where the concept is coming from. Most women want to be thin and in shape, and Bethenny’s goal is to show women that you can be those things without starving yourself or exercising for hours upon hours each day. You can be “Naturally Thin” as she puts it.

What she does in this book is give women (and men, I suppose, although the book is geared toward women) the tools needed to eat healthfully without it being this huge, complicated ordeal. She talks about how she creates meals for herself and her family, how she works with whatever ingredients she has in the house, and how she shops intelligently so that she will have important ingredients on hand for when she needs them. All great tips – and I found many tips in here that I plan to use for my own cooking.

She also provides recipes in the book, and while there weren’t a ton of recipes, the ones that she did include seemed easy and delicious. Many of them were lower-fat, lower-calorie versions of foods many people love to eat (such as Spinach and Artichoke dip and Macaroni and Cheese), and others were new-to-me flavor combinations and interesting ideas. I’ll be making several more of her recipes in the months to come, but immediately after I finished the book, I did make a soup she had featured. It turned out delicious – much more tasty than I would have expected for such a healthy meal! The recipe will be featured below.

I definitely enjoyed reading The Skinnygirl Dish. Bethenny Frankel has a great attitude about cooking and eating and she does an excellent job passing that attitude on to her readers. This is a must for any beginner cook trying to cook and eat more healthfully.

For more about Bethenny Frankel, including more recipes and information about her other endeavors, check out her website.

White Bean and Spinach Soup (serves 4)

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 red bell pepper, minced
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can white beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh chopped baby spinach
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon of salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste

Directions:

1. In a nonstick pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until it softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and saute until the pepper softens, about 5 more minutes.
2. Add the vegetable broth, white beans, spinach, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the soup is hot. Remove the bay leaf and the garlic with a slotted spoon and throw them away.
3. Puree the soup with an immersion blender until it is completely smooth or leave some of the beans chunky if you prefer. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve hot.

The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry
Published by Gallery, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher in conjunction with TLC Book Tours

Twenty-eight-year-old Ginny Selvaggio’s parents have just passed away unexpectedly, leaving Ginny and her older sister Amanda reeling. Ginny, an incredibly shy and sheltered person who shows signs of Aspergers, retreats into herself and her cooking to cope with her pain, while Amanda focuses on trying to take care of Ginny by forcing her to move out of their parents’ home and in with Amanda and her family. Ginny is convinced that she should stay in the house, and a warning from her deceased grandmother helps cement this belief in her mind. But she needs to work on figuring out how she fits into the continuum of “normal” and, more than that, how she can convince her sister that she is normal enough to live her own life.

The Kitchen Daughter is an incredibly charming novel, one that I truly enjoyed every minute I spent with it. While the novel deals with the very sad topic of losing one’s parents, McHenry handles the topic with finesse and her characters really shine. She takes what would ordinarily be a depressing story and makes it the complete opposite of depressing – very hopeful and positive.

The biggest strength of The Kitchen Daughter, in my opinion, is the fact that McHenry created fully realized, interesting characters, characters I felt that I really got to know by the time the book was over. Ginny is the kind of character the reader can’t help but love. She is introverted and shy, sure, but she has a quirky charm that will win over any reader. I loved reading as she came to better understand herself, her disorder, but most specifically, watching her overcome it. The entire book was a journey to her realizing that nobody is “normal”, and that the things about her that were different were important parts of her overall personality.

I can’t help but love a foodie book, and The Kitchen Daughter really fits that mold. The descriptions of the food Ginny cooked were to die for and I could have happily jumped into the book and sat down to a delicious meal with her. While this isn’t your ordinary foodie book – it has tons of depth – the food parts were done so well and reading about Ginny’s cooking literally made my mouth water.

The Kitchen Daughter is a beautiful novel about the power food has in the healing process, and also about one woman’s journey to self-awareness. The characters come alive on the page, as does the cooking! I highly recommend this read.

Keys to Good Cooking by Harold McGee

Keys to Good Cooking Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes by Harold McGee
Published by Penguin
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

Keys to Good Cooking is not a cookbook.  Rather, it is like an encyclopedia for your kitchen.   The book is packed to the brim with cooking tips, from the most important supplies to have in your kitchen to how to properly cook meats to what type of flour is best to use in what situation and everything in between.  This book will not provide you with recipes, instead it will guide you in choosing recipes that make sense and will be delicious and also how to modify those recipes that don’t work so well.  Put simply, Keys to Good Cooking is a must-have accessory for any kitchen.

I’m fairly new to the kitchen – I didn’t really start cooking until two years ago, and only more recently have I been more adventurous with my cooking – so Keys to Good Cooking was like a godsend to me.  There is just SO MUCH helpful information in this book that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.  I’ll just say that it pretty much covers any type of food you could ever want to cook – anything you’re cooking, you will find some type of helpful hint or sometimes a detailed explanation that will make cooking it easier.

I must admit that Keys to Good Cooking was difficult to read in a way that would adequately prepare me to review it, because it really is a reference book and not something that one can easily read straight through.  I did skip a few sections, most notably the ones that focused on things I never cook, but I plan to go back and read through them if and when I decide to make those types of foods (for example, I really don’t bake, so I didn’t read much about cakes and cookies and pies, just sort of skimmed those sections).  But the great thing about the book is how well it’s organized, so if I decide to bake a cake from scratch I can easily reference that section to ensure I don’t mess anything up. :)

The bottom line is this:  Keys to Good Cooking is an excellent reference book to keep in your kitchen.  And if you are a novice in the kitchen like myself, you absolutely MUST have this book.  It is extremely helpful and will encourage you to branch out and try new foods and new recipes you may have been nervous about before.  I most highly recommend Keys to Good Cooking.

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Published by HarperCollins
Review copy provided by TLC Book Tours

The concept of The Recipe Club is a fantastic idea for a novel – a story of a lifelong friendship combined with more than eighty recipes.  At the book’s center are Lilly and Val, who form a two-person “recipe club” in which they write letters back and forth and include a recipe in each one.  The club provides a nice distraction from their real lives, as both of the girls have less than ideal sets of parents.  Lilly and Val’s friendship sustains many trails and tribulations over the years, until their early twenties when a catastrophic betrayal changes their relationship forever.

I absolutely LOVE the idea of this book.  I didn’t cook or bake as a child, but I almost wish I did so I could have started a recipe club of my own!  When I have a daughter, I would love to encourage HER to start a recipe club, I honestly love the idea that much. :)

So, about the book.  It was definitely an enjoyable experience for me.  Lilly and Val were believable characters and their friendship was very authentic.  More different than they were alike, their friendship really illustrates the fact that best friends can sometimes be the most unlikely people – but in this case, it just worked.  Their story was very sweet and the struggles they went through were very typical of preteens, teens, and young women, and since the girls were so different the reader was able to see these issues from two opposite points of view, which was entertaining.

I loved the format of the novel – it was done almost entirely in letters, emails, and recipes.  It made for a very quick read, and while it somewhat kept the characters at arm’s length, I still felt that I got to know Lilly and Val pretty well.

I have to admit that the ending of the book somewhat disappointed me.  First of all, it stopped being told in letters and became a traditional third-person point of view novel, which was very jolting.  It took me a few minutes to get re-acquainted with the characters in this new format.  In addition, the events in the last twenty pages of the novel were much heavier than those in the first three hundred.  It just seemed strange – the rest of the book was lighter and more fun, and at the end there was this huge life-altering event which, to me, just seemed out of place.

All that being said, however, I did still like the novel. The Recipe Club was not perfect in my eyes, but I still found it to be a fun, engaging story about friendship and the recipes that kept that friendship alive.  And the bonus is that I now have another cookbook to add to my collection!

Coming Soon: The Keys to Good Cooking

I’ve just started cooking in the last couple of years, and I have to say that I really enjoy it.  As a kid, my mom cooked everything and with four kids and a tiny kitchen, we never really got to be a part of that process.  So when I went away to college, I hadn’t a clue how to cook for myself.  I survived on toast, sandwiches, eggs, cereal, etc.  Easy stuff.  But over the past 2-3 years, I’ve just decided to dive in, experiment with cooking, and hope that the results are edible at the very least.  And I’ve been very successful, if I do say so myself.

So it goes without saying that I’m always looking for new recipes, new tips on how to become a better cook, new ways to get my husband to eat veggies (lol – he’s like a five-year-old in that way), etc.  Along came The Keys to Good Cooking by Harold McGee, which I’ll be reviewing in October for a TLC Book Tour, and which I am SO excited to get my hands on!

Today I have a few “teaser” tips for you from The Keys to Good Cooking.  This is just a tiny sample of what the book contain.  These tips are about cooking vegetables, because that’s what I personally need the most help with.

When boiling vegetables, bring the water to a hard boil and bring it back to the boil as fast as possible after adding the vegetables, to inactivate damaging enzymes quickly.  Cover the pot to reduce cooling caused by evaporation.

To keep green vegetables vibrant, boil them for less than 10 minutes. If necessary, cut them into small pieces that cook quickly.

To boil potatoes and other starchy vegetables, start them in cold water slightly acidified with lemon juice or cream of tartar, and heat them gradually up to 180-190°F/80-85°C. This method helps the vegetable surfaces stay intact while the pieces cook through.

See why I’m so excited to read this book?  It looks like the perfect tool for a beginner cook like myself.

Make sure you come back on Wednesday, October 20th to read my full review!

Weekend Cooking: Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution

This is my first time participating in Weekend Cooking, hosted by Beth Fish Reads, and I’m very excited about finally participating because I recently had the pleasure of reading Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook and I absolutely loved it.  I loved it so much I felt that I HAD to share it with all of you. :)

Jamie Oliver began his “food revolution” with the goal of changing the way people think about food – to teach people who don’t believe they have the ability to cook healthy and delicious meals how simple it really can be.  I picked up this cookbook because I’d seen his TV show earlier this year on ABC, and I was extremely intrigued by the premise.  Basically he traveled to Huntington, West Virginia, in order to redo their entire school lunch program and teach people in the community how to cook healthy, affordable, and delicious meals for their families.  He is so enthusiastic about his cause, and the stuff he cooks really does look easy and very good, so I couldn’t resist trying out the cookbook.

Let me tell you, this cookbook is a wonderful tool for those of us who aren’t experienced cooks.  And perhaps those of you who are experienced cooks might find some new and exciting recipes in here, too!  Personally I love simple recipes that can easily be tweaked to my own liking, and this cookbook provided me with just that.  Jamie Oliver gives the reader a diverse array of recipes for all tastes and cooking abilities.  The types of recipes in the book range from quick pasta dishes, to stir-fries, to curries, to cheeseburgers, to breakfasts, to everything in between.

So far I’ve made two recipes from the book – Spaghetti Bolognese and Macaroni and Cauliflower Cheese Bake.  The Bolognese sauce was what I was most nervous about, but it turned out beautifully.  I even tweaked it a bit to work with my preferences (for example, my husband absolutely refuses to eat onions, so I had to leave them out of the sauce) and it still turned out really, really delicious.  The Mac and Cheese was mouth-wateringly good.  It was better than any other mac and cheese I’ve ever had, and it had the added bonus of the cauliflower, which made me happy to introduce a vegetable in one of my husband’s favorite dishes.  Some of you have heard about my struggles getting my hubby to eat veggies (he’s really like a five-year-old in this aspect) so I was very encouraged when he loved both of these recipes, both of which included veggies.

I’m enthusiastic to make many more of Jamie’s recipes.  The curries in particular intrigue me, as I’ve never attempted to make curry before (always thought it was way beyond my abilities) but the recipes in this book make it look very easy.  This is a book I actually borrowed from my local library but I do believe I’ll be purchasing it soon because it really is that great a cookbook.

Jamie’s Food Revolution is a must-have accessory for any newbie cook like myself.  I learned so much from this book and I can’t encourage you enough to get it for yourself.  Jamie also has a website – JamieOliver.com – which contains tons of helpful cooking tips, recipes, and more.  I highly suggest you check it out and also – get yourself a copy of this book!

Mini-reviews (the trying to catch up edition)

Okay folks, I am currently 7 reviews behind, and while that’s usually okay, I haven’t been feeling much like writing lately so at this rate I will literally never catch up.  Therefore, I present you today with several mini-reviews.  These are all library books, so no review commitments involved, and I don’t think any of them qualify for any of the challenges I’m participating in.  So here goes.

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley was an impulse grab at the library, and what a great find it was!  This book kept me on the edge of my seat the ENTIRE time I was reading it, and I can’t recommend it enough.  It is basically the story of the nightmare scenario of a world-wide flu epidemic, and one family’s quest to survive it.  Many things happen in this novel that will terrify you, and will make you think that it’s entirely possible that a flu pandemic could happen for real, but that is what makes the novel so great.  In addition, these characters are written very well, and I promise you that they will get in your head and you will root for them despite the fact that you KNOW there’s no way they can all survive.  So, yes, read this one.  It is pretty awesome.  

All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab was an audiobook find, and I didn’t know anything about it going in.  So I was surprised to realize that it is an honest-to-goodness mystery, a young adult mystery yes, but definitely more of a mystery than anything else.  As I don’t read a lot of mysteries, it took me awhile to get involved with the story, but involved I did get eventually.  It is about a girl named Carly who was murdered a year ago, and her ex-boyfriend Neily and cousin Audrey coming together to attempt to solve her murder.  They both have an interest to do so because Neily was suspected to be the culprit and Audrey’s dad actually was convicted for the crime (and was in jail for life because of it).  I didn’t love this book but I didn’t hate it either.  It was just sort of a mildly entertaining way to pass the time in the car for me, to be honest.  But if you like young adult fiction and you like mysteries I suppose you would enjoy All Unquiet Things.

Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon is a book that’s gotten a lot of love in the blogosphere, and with good reason.  Chabon is an extremely talented writer, and his observations and explanations of his own experiences are spot-on and so fun to read.  I particularly enjoyed the chapter about circumcision (his discussions with his wife, Ayelet Waldman, about deciding whether to have their son circumcised are laugh-out-loud funny) and the essay about how when he was a child, children were given much more freedom just to play and enjoy the outdoors (so true).  I highly recommend this book to anyone, woman or man, and I dare you not to love it.  Now I plan to go out and read Ayelet Waldman’s book about similar topics (I think) entitled Bad Mother.

SuperFreakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner was another audiobook selection, and I listened to it because years ago I listened to its predecessor   on a long roadtrip with my husband and we both really enjoyed that experience.  This is one of those books that I was highly entertained by, yet after finishing it I can’t tell you anything specific about it.  Is that bad?  Either way, I liked it, even though I didn’t find it as compelling as the first one, and I recommend reading it if you enjoyed Freakonomics.

Finally, The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone was another impulse library find.  It is a book about veganism (she is obviously a vegan), and the first half is all about why you should be a vegan, and the second half is recipes.   I have been flirting with vegetarianism (though not veganism – not sure I can go that hardcore) for pretty much my entire life, and this book definitely gave me a lot to consider.  I especially liked the section where Silverstone listed out many of her favorite meat and dairy substitutes, by specific brand, flavor, etc.  It is a really helpful guide for those completely new to veganism or even vegetarianism.  I don’t know a lot about vegan cooking, but the recipes sounded extremely good, and perhaps for the experienced vegan the book might be worth a look just for the recipes.  I plan on cooking at least a few of the recipes in the near future, and although I’m not a vegan convert yet (or even a true vegetarian), Silverstone has definitely given me a gentle push to try out more vegan recipes and products.

So there you have it!  It certainly feels good to get those books reviewed and cross them off my list.

Also, happy July 4th to those of you here in the U.S.!  Enjoy a day filled with fun, family, friends, and fireworks!

Keeping the Feast by Paula Butturini

Title:  Keeping the Feast: One Couple’s Story of Love, Food, and Healing in Italy
Author:  Paula Butturini
Release date:  February 18, 2010
Publisher:  Riverhead Hardcover
Pages:  272
Genre:  Memoir
Source:  Publisher for a TLC Book Tour

Paula Butturini and her husband John had a fairytale-like courtship:  they met in Italy, fell in love, and later got married in Rome.  But less than a month after their wedding, John was shot in the stomach and almost killed while on the job in Romania.  John not only had to recover from his injury physically but emotionally as well – he was struck with debilitating depression for years following the shooting.  John’s depression dramatically changed their marriage, and while Paula dealt with its effects on her own life, and John slowly improved, food was always the centerpiece for their marriage and their life together.  It was the daily routine of purchasing fresh food, creating three meals, and sitting around a table together that helped keep their family knitted together in the face of such a destructive disease as depression.

I am a person who loves food.  LOVES food.  I love to eat, I love to try new restaurants and types of foods, and I’m even starting to love to cook. :)  And I totally believe in the restorative power of an excellent meal with great company.  So when I was asked to review Keeping the Feast, I absolutely couldn’t resist.  And I’m happy to say that it lived up to my expectations completely.

Paula Butturini has written a compelling memoir about a majorly tumultuous time in her life and her marriage, a time in which food was the only thing that kept her sane.  A time in which the daily preparation of her family’s meals helped heal her soul, her mind, and her relationship with her husband.  I loved reading this memoir.  I was compelled by her story and I felt her pain as she dealt with her husband’s illness and tried to find a way to find happiness in her marriage and her life despite all the difficulty they were facing.  I didn’t want to put the book down until I found out how things would turn out for her husband, whether he would get better and when, and how their marriage would survive and hopefully remain a happy one.

The descriptions of food in the book were absolutely mouth-watering.  Reading Keeping the Feast made me very, very hungry!  Every time Butturini described a meal she was making, I had the urge to run out to the store, buy the ingredients, and attempt to make it for myself.  I also loved the sense of place in the book.  I’ve been to Italy once, when I was a kid, and reading Keeping the Feast brought some of those hazy memories back of exploring the beautiful country of Italy.  It definitely made me want to plan a trip overseas, or at the very least, find a really fantastic Italian restaurant nearby. :)

The only complaint I have about the book is that she didn’t include any recipes.  I would love to have concrete recipes of some of the amazing things she made throughout the book so I could make them for myself!

If you love food, and I know most people do, I highly recommend Keeping the Feast. Paula Butturini has written a compulsively readable memoir about the power of her family to heal one another through the cooking and sharing of a meal.  This is a beautiful book with a wonderful message.

Flat Belly Diet Cookbook by Liz Vaccariello

Title:  Flat Belly Diet Cookbook
Author:  Liz Vaccariello
Release Date:  August 18, 2009
Publisher:  Rodale Books
Page Count:  368
Genre:  Nonfiction, Cookbook
Source:  Basil and Spice

I have never reviewed a cookbook on this blog before.  The primary reason for that being that I don’t cook very much.  I LIKE to cook, and I certainly like to eat, but I just don’t have a lot of time in each day with which to make delicious meals, much as I’d like to.  But when I was presented with the opportunity to review Flat Belly Diet Cookbook, I saw the words “flat belly” (wouldn’t we all like one of those?) and saw those cupcakes (YUM!) and had a difficult time resisting.  So I figured I’d try it out.

I actually feel sort of silly reviewing this one because technically, I don’t believe in diets.  I definitely don’t “do” diets myself.  But I really wanted to see the recipes in this book for myself.  This cookbook is both a description of the Flat Belly Diet itself and a cookbook filled with recipes that follow the diet.

Flat Belly Diet Cookbook first describes the Flat Belly Diet itself.  Basically, the idea is that there are certain foods that help reduce belly fat (the most dangerous type of fat there is, in terms of health risks) – such as nuts and seeds, olive oils, avocados, olives, and dark chocolate.  The diet finds ways to incorporate these foods into each meal, while at the same time eating only a precise amount of calories throughout the day and leaving out certain other foods that are detrimental to the goals of the diet.  Later in the diet, those “bad” foods are allowed back in, but at the beginning there are certain foods you just can’t touch.  Along with describing the diet, Liz Vaccariello goes one step further and actually shows the reader how to plan for a week’s worth of meals, how to grocery shop for each week to save both time and money, and how to live this lifestyle amidst a regular person’s life.  It really is helpful, and I think if I did want to follow the diet this book would definitely make that possible and I could absolutely make it happen.

The cookbook itself is full of delicious-sounding recipes.  A few of the ones that caught my eye are:  Mango Surprise Smoothie, Thai Corn and Crab Soup, Southwestern Fried Rice, Steamed Snapper with Pesto, Turkey Meat Loaf, and Pineapple and Pork Tacos.  So far, I’ve only actually made one dish from the cookbook – Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast – and it was delicious!  I’d never even thought to add peanut butter to french toast, but man was it amazing.  And don’t worry, you’re allowed to use (a little) syrup with it!

Not all of the recipes are meal-sized portions, but the nice thing about the cookbook is that it gives you substitution suggestions, as well as ideas on how to make some of the snack-sized recipes into meals.  This cookbook would also be an excellent choice for an overall healthy lifestyle, even if you’re not following this diet, because each recipe provides complete nutritional information.

I would definitely recommend Flat Belly Diet Cookbook for anyone who is interested in pursuing healthy cooking options and definitely anyone interested in following the Flat Belly Diet!

Review: The School of Essential Ingredients

Title:  The School of Essential Ingredients

Author:  Erica Bauermeister

Published:  January 22, 2009

Page Count:  256

Genre:  Fiction

My Rating:  4/5

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian’s Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students’ lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian’s food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen. 

The School of Essential Ingredients is a very difficult book for me to review because I liked it, quite a bit actually, but so has every other blogger on the planet.  And I don’t totally feel like I have anything new to add to the conversation about the book.  So, I’m going to just keep this one short and sweet.  I liked how each chapter was told from the perspective of a different character – telling the story this way really helped the cooking class come alive before my eyes and I loved getting to know each and every one of them.  I LOVED Bauermeister’s descriptions of the food they were cooking – I want to email her for every single recipe in this book (Natasha, this would be a GREAT author interview for your tell-me-a-recipe feature!!).  My mouth literally watered on more than one occasion while reading this novel – the descriptions were really that good.  The book left me feeling happy and comforted – a great feeling to have when closing a book every once in awhile.  Not overly emotionally attached to the characters or the story, just an overall feeling of contentment when I turned the last page.  I would recommend this book and I’m going to give you a huge list of other bloggers who would too. :)

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