Showing posts with label chia seeds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chia seeds. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding Parfaits {#SipBySip Tea Party}

I am very excited to be taking part in the #SipBySip Tea Party today, hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla and sponsored by The Republic of Tea to celebrate the release of their Beautifying Botanicals line.

(FTC Disclosure: I received free tea from the sponsor company for the purpose of reviewing and creating recipes. All opinions are my own.)

I admit to already being a fan of The Republic of Tea and several of their tins (Ginger Peach, Hibiscus Pineapple Lychee, get some ZZZ's, Immunity Super Green...) regularly grace my panty tea shelf, so I was looking forward to sampling the new botanical line featuring: 
  • Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender Tea (Organic green rooibos, organic hibiscus, organic lemongrass, organic rosehips, blue butterfly pea flower, apple, organic lavender, organic hibiscus extract, sweet blackberry leaves, organic lemon balm, bamboo, blueberry, schizandra extract and natural blueberry flavor) and  
  • Beauty Sleep Chamomile Rose (Organic hibiscus, biodynamic chamomile, organic rosehips, organic lemongrass, blue butterfly pea flower, sweet blackberry leaves, licorice, organic hibiscus extract, bamboo, schizandra extract, natural honey flavor and natural rose flavor).
I had a little trepidation too since anything with strong florals like lavender and rose as ingredients needs a deft hand so it isn't like drinking a bowl of rehydrated potpourri, but I needn't have worried since The Republic of Tea has done their usual excellent blending of flavors so the teas are well-balanced and the floral notes are pleasant rather than overpowering. Both teabags brew a lovely color of herbal tea or tisane (sorry I didn't take a pic when sampling) and are a treat to sip. The packaging is beautiful and perfectly matches the tea--in colors and mood. (I think a tin of these teas paired with an antique tea cup in similar colors would be a lovely Mother's Day, bridal shower, or birthday gift.

For the task of creating a tea-infused recipe, I chose Daily Beauty and wanted to make a healthier pudding that nodded to all of the healthy botanicals in the tea. I love eating chia seed puddings and they make great breakfasts or snacks as the chia seeds are filling without being heavy and provide many good nutrients like fiber, protein and Omega 3 fatty acids and are hydrating too. 

I made a simple blueberry compote to serve with the chia pudding and ended up layering the pudding and compote with fresh blueberries and topping it with dollops of coconut yogurt. Putting them in jars is fun and gives me a grab-and-go breakfast to take to work. 

Since the tea is not overpowering, I used 3 bags in my coconut milk and added 1/2 tsp of culinary lavender. Since these teas are really botanicals or tisanes and not actual tea, I steeped them for about 15 minutes, to maximize the flavor without fear of the tannins that occur in 'real' tea (grown from camellia sinensis bush) making it bitter. 

Note: What is a lovely purpley-blue in the cup takes on a bit of a grayish cast in coconut milk, so I added a touch of purple food coloring to my chia pudding which gave it a light lavender hue that doesn't come through well in the photos.

Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Servings)

1 can coconut milk + extra if needed
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp culinary lavender
3 bags of Republic of Tea's Daily Beauty Blueberry Lavender Tea
1/3 cup chia seeds
purple food coloring (optional) 

In a medium-sized saucepan, whisk the coconut milk, honey, vanilla and culinary lavender together. Add the tea bags and bring slowly to a simmer over medium-low heat--stirring and not letting the milk boil or scorch.  Once at a simmer, remove from heat, cover and allow tea bags to steep about 10 minutes. 

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the tea bags against the strainer with a wooden spoon in order to press out all of the liquid, then discard tea bags . Allow strained mixture to cool to room temperature. Once mixture is cool, add the chis seeds, whisking them in and then set the mixture aside for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to avoid the seeds clumping together. Add a couple of drops of purple food coloring if desired. Cover tightly and place pudding in the fridge several hours, preferably overnight.

Once pudding has set, remove it from the fridge and stir it, adding additional coconut milk if mixture is too thick or firm.


Blueberry Compote for Parfaits
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 1/2 cups Compote)

3 heaping cups fresh or frozen (thawed) blueberries
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice

Place the blueberries, brown sugar, lemon juice, and 1/3 cup of water into a small saucepan and heat over medium. Bring to a simmer and simmer about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring ocassionally, until mixture has thickened. Set aside and allow to cool before making parfaits.

To Assemble: Blueberry Lavender Tea Infused Chia Seed Pudding Parfaits:

Alternate layers of the blueberry compote, the chia seed pudding, fresh blueberries and yogurt of choice (optional) in small juice glasses or jars. Garnish parfait tops with fresh blueberries and a few buds of culinary lavender. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: I really like the pudding--especially when layered with the blueberry compote and am happy how these turned out. Blueberry is the prominent flavor with the lavender as more of an after note. The fresh blueberries and yogurt are optional but add different textural elements to the parfaits. I ate one last night for a dessert/snack and took another for breakfast today and I would happily make them again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Check out the #SipBySip bloggers and their recipe creations and reviews:
A big thank you to our sponsor! And mahalo to Camilla for hosting and for the packs of lavender and honey she included with our tea.

You can find The Republic of Tea on the web, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,& Instagram

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "When We Found Home" by Susan Mallery, Served with a Recipe for Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit and Coconut Syrup

Happy Aloha Friday! I'm kicking off the weekend as today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for When We Found Home, a new novel by Susan Mallery. Accompanying my review are some easy and health-ish Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup. There's also a chance to enter a tour-wide giveaway for a prize pack at the bottom of the post.

Publisher's Blurb:

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. Becoming a family will take patience, humor, a little bit of wine and a whole lot of love. But love isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, funny and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family—blended by surprise, not by choice—and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: HQN Books (July 10, 2018)

My Review:

I have only read a few of Susan Mallery books (this is the last one I reviewed) and they are generally feel-good books that are perfect for summer reading. Heavier subjects are touched on, but ultimately they are about love, friendship, family, and relationships. When We Found Home follows suit with the story of three half-siblings Malcolm, Callie, and Keira who are brought together by their grandfather--each looking for love and acceptance. The trio grew up differently with Malcolm brought into the fold as a pre-teen and then Callie--who needs a fresh start after a big mistake, and Keira--a twelve-year-old in foster care, are discovered later (after their deadbeat, woman-in-every-port father passes away and Grandfather Alberto learns of their existence). 

The book is set in Seattle, where the family owns Alberto's Alfresco, a successful high-end food distribution company that Malcolm runs, along with his best friend Santiago who is the company's CFO. In the building that houses the company's headquarters is a coffee bar with an attractive part-time barista named Delaney, a former finance executive who is now pursuing a new life by becoming a Naturopath after losing her fiance. Malcolm is attracted, Keira be-friended, and Delaney's story is a big focus of the book, both her own story and her romance with Malcolm. Callie and Santiago are a second potential couple and they, Keira, Grandfather Alberto, and his housekeeper (and perhaps more) Carmen make up the rest of the main and secondary characters. The romances are fine (although Callie and Santiago seemed a bit too insta-love to me), but it is in the family dynamics, the building relationships between the siblings, and the second chances for characters that are seeking and/or hurting that When We Found Home excels. 

There is good humor--especially from Keira and poignant moments (also many from Keira) that made the book enjoyable and made me care about the characters. There are no big surprises here, but a heartwarming and uplifting story that drew me in with the Seattle and somewhat foodie setting. The 400+ pages were enjoyable from start to finish and I think anyone who likes family dynamics, romance, and second chance and start-again books will like this one. 

Author Notes: #1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives-family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at

Connect with Susan on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

Susan Mallery books never seem to have a shortage of food in them and with the family being food purveyors there were plenty of food mentions that included coffee and espresso, pasta--rotini and fusilli, marinara sauce, macrons, biscotti, cinnamon rolls, jelly donuts, and a children's party offering of PB & J sandwiches, carrot, cucumber and celery sticks, organic apple juice, punch, mac-n-cheese, mini hot dogs made into cars with tomato and cucumber wheels, There was oatmeal, poached eggs and fruit, an antipasto plate, cookies, steak, dark chocolate, expensive hot cocoa mix and mixes for minestrone soup and spicy sangria (from the food company's gift baskets), macadamia pancakes with bacon and fresh fruit, sandwiches, brownies, pizza and salad, tea with scones and tea sandwiches, wine, Dr. Pepper, chocolate cake, brandy, stuffed mushrooms, prime rib, mashed potatoes, and cheesecake, puff pastry appetizers, Cosmos, Shrimp & Crab Louie and BLT salads, mini mushroom quiches, salmon, potato casserole, martinis, egg and sausage sandwiches, chocolate croissants, Mexican food, and ice cream with chocolate sauce. 

In determining what to make for my book-inspired dish, I considered the two recipes in the back of the book--Shrimp with Lemon Linguine and Triple Chocolate Biscotti Brownies, but neither really fit my current eating habits and gluten-limiting. I decided to go with the macadamia pancakes that Carmen serves for breakfast with bacon "and a lovely little fruit garnish." I wasn't going to have the bacon and gluten-limiting seems not to fit pancakes, but then I thought of the 2-ingredient, gluten-free banana-egg pancakes I make sometimes (like here, or this peanut butter variation). A new friend (Kamala of KamalaWellness) just posted a pic of egg & banana pancakes with chia seeds on Instagram and I thought they looked delicious, and it would be easy to add chopped macadamia nuts to the banana, egg, and chia seed mix. I was going to use maple syrup with fresh fruit and chopped mac nuts to top my pancakes, but I thought I'd play around with the container of coconut sugar I had in the pantry and make a quick coconut simple syrup instead.

Macadamia Nut, Chia Seed & Banana Pancakes with Fruit & Coconut Syrup
Adapted & added to from The Kitchn
(Makes About 6 pancakes)

2 medium-ish ripe bananas
2 large eggs

1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 Tbsp chopped macadamia nuts (I used roasted)
dash of vanilla

large pinch of cinnamon
coconut oil for pan
coconut syrup (recipe below) and chopped mac nuts, fresh blueberries and other fruit as desired to serve

Mash the peeled banana with a fork until no large lumps remain and stir in egg until well-combined. Add chia seeds, mac nuts, vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until it forms a slightly loose, liquid-y batter. Let sit for about 10 minutes so chia seeds gel a little which helps hold the pancakes together.

When ready to cook, heat pan or griddle over medium heat and add a small amount of coconut oil to prevent sticking. When pan is hot, drop about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the  pan--if it doesn't sizzle slightly, turn up heat. 

Cook until the bottom of the pancake looks golden brown when you lift a side--about 1 minute or so. The edges should also be looking set but the middle will still be a bit loose. 

Carefully lift the pancake by gently working a thin spatula about halfway underneath the pancake, and carefully turning over to the other side. If any loose batter spills when you turn the pancake, lay the pan cake on top of the spill and move any excess back under the pancake. Cook the pancake for another minute or so until it is golden brown on each side--flipping back and forth as needed to get them evenly browned.

Set pancake aside (keep warm) and cook remaining batter/pancakes. 

Serve immediately while warm with coconut syrup, fresh blueberries or other favorite toppings.


Coconut Simple Syrup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

1 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place the coconut sugar and water into a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil, stirring continuously for about 5 minutes--until sugar is completely dissolved and mixture starts to thicken. 

Remove pan from heat and allow to cool and thicken. Use warm, or store in a glass jar in the fridge. 

Notes/Results: I was happy with both the pancakes and the syrup. The pancakes have a nice texture with the addition of the chia seeds (which also some extra protein, fiber and Omega 3-s) and the macadamia nuts. The chia seeds give the pancakes a poppy seed-like texture which I like and they, along with keeping the pancakes on the smaller size, hold things together pretty well. I know not everyone likes bananas, but if you do and you are looking for a paleo-friendly or gluten-free pancake option, these are winners. The syrup has a toasty coconut and molasses-like flavor that worked well with the pancakes and fresh fruit--I used blueberries, raspberries and diced pineapple, as well as the dry roasted mac nuts on top. Eat them for breakfast or for a satisfying dinner, as I did. I will happily make both the pancakes and the syrup again.

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

When We Found Home is my Sixth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the July 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   


The publisher is doing a fun tour-wide giveaway for this book with a great foodie prize pack:
This Taste of Seattle Gift Bag includes:
  • An “I [Heart] Happy Books” tote bag
  • Starbucks Pike’s Place ground coffee
  • Seattle Chocolates gift set (3 truffle bars)
  • Cucina Fresca marinara sauce
  • Sahale Snacks (6 packs)
  • Maury Island Farms jam (2 jars)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Note: A review copy of "When We Found Home" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Garden of Blue Roses" by Michael Barsa, Served with Vanilla Chia Pudding with Blueberries & Peaches

It's the day before the July 4th and your thoughts are probably turning to cookouts and fireworks, and maybe an icy cold beverage if it's hot and humid where you are. There is something else that can feel cool and refreshing on a warm day and that's a chill from a creepy, Gothic tale like The Garden of Blue Roses by Michael Barsa. I'm reviewing it today as a stop on the TLC Book Tour and accompanying my review is a cool and creamy vanilla chia pudding, topped with blueberries and peaches and inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

A car lies at the bottom of an icy ravine. Slumped over the steering wheel, dead, is the most critically acclaimed horror writer of his time. Was it an accident? His son Milo doesn’t care. For the first time in his life, he’s free. No more nightmarish readings, spooky animal rites, or moonlit visions of his father in the woods with a notebook and vampire make-up.

Or so he thinks.

Milo settles into a quiet routine–constructing model Greek warships and at last building a relationship with his sister Klara, who’s home after a failed marriage and brief career as an English teacher. Then Klara hires a gardener to breathe new life into their overgrown estate. There’s something odd about him–something eerily reminiscent of their father’s most violent villain. Or is Milo imagining things? He’s not sure. That all changes the day the gardener discovers something startling in the woods. Suddenly Milo is fighting for his life, forced to confront the power of fictional identity as he uncovers the shocking truth about his own dysfunctional family–and the supposed accident that claimed his parents’ lives.

Paperback: 248 pages
Publisher: Underland Press (April 17, 2018)

My Review:

I'll say it flat out ...this is a strange book and a book that took me a bit to get into and make complete sense of. It's also a book that not everyone is going to like--because of that strangeness, its unreliable and fairly unlikable main character, and the fact that really, there are no truly likable characters here, just some less unlikable than others. All that being said, I liked it, I really did, and I found myself in turn fascinated with, repelled by, and oddly protective of Milo and Klara Crane--the two main characters. (For movie fans, I picture Milo in my mind as a cross between a young Anthony Perkins in Psycho and Bud Court in Harold  and Maude and young Milo as the kid who played Damien in The Omen and Klara as Jennifer Jason Leigh in Delores Claiborne.) The Garden of Blue Roses definitely has a strong Shirley Jackson Gothic, creepy sibling vibe that is reminiscent and yet very different from We Have Always Lived at the Castle--which happens to be a favorite of mine. 

I don't want to give away any more details than are already in the blurb, but lets just say that this is family dysfunction at its creepiest. The horror here is not in-your-face, it's psychological, so more dark and chilling than truly scary--a tone that starts from the first page with the shrill blast of an old clanging phone ringing in a large, spooky house and an accident on an icy road, then builds the tension, page by page until the very end with the plot, and the Crane family's secrets are cleverly unfolded with dark humor and some great twists. There were a few times when things went over my head and I had to go back and read passages again to figure out what was happening, but it was worth it. This is Barsa's first book and if you like smart Gothic and literary fiction that leans into horror, suspense, strange but well-drawn characters, and dark family secrets, you might just enjoy it As for me, I'm going to add it with its gorgeous dark blue cover to my shelves and wait for Barsa to write some more.


Author Notes: Michael Barsa grew up in a German-speaking household in New Jersey and spoke no English until he went to school. So began an epic struggle to master the American “R” and a lifelong fascination with language. He’s lived on three continents and spent many summers in southern Germany and southern Vermont.
He’s worked as an award-winning grant writer, an English teacher, and an environmental lawyer. He now teaches environmental and natural resources law. His scholarly articles have appeared in several major law reviews, and his writing on environmental policy has appeared in The Chicago Tribune and The Chicago Sun-Times. His short fiction has appeared in Sequoia.
The Garden of Blue Roses is his first novel.

Connect with Michael via his Website or Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There is not a lot of tempting food mentioned in The Garden of Blue Roses and what's mentioned sometimes has a creepy connotation, like Milo chopping carrots and they remind him of Klara's fingers or a few other more graphic relations of food to the body or blood. OK, that's appetizing--we'll move on... ;-) There was some 'normal' food present and it included coffee, hot scones and cheese, hamburgers, canned cream of mushroom soup, tea and butter cookies, soda, champagne, pork roast, potatoes and Brussels sprouts, popping corn, shrimp, icy summer drinks, wieners and sauerkraut, wine, maple syrup, freeze-dried ice cream, canned peaches, lamb chops, lettuce, cocoa, soft-boiled eggs, chocolate with marzipan centers, croissants, orange juice, pears, biscuits, gravy, wine and fine cheeses,  flavored tea bottles, and steaks.

For my book inspired dish, I decided to make a pudding. There's a reference in the book where something (you really don't want me to go into it) is compared to a child with pudding on his face. I wanted to add blueberries for the gorgeous blue color of the cover and canned peaches (or rather a cup of peaches in their juices) because Milo had a favorite brand. I decided on chia pudding because it's healthier than standard puddings--you get protein, fiber, calcium, omega 3's and other good nutrients--and chia seeds are low in carbs. Vanilla and a little maple syrup to sweeten and flavor and coconut milk to keep it dairy-free. Plus my friend Natalie just post a pic of a chia seed pudding on Instagram and I've been craving it.

Vanilla Chia Pudding 
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 4)

2 cups coconut milk, or milk of choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup, or to taste
1/2 cup chia seeds
fresh blueberries and whatever other fruit or nuts you like to top

Place coconut milk. vanilla and maple syrup into a bowl and whisk until well blended. Whisk in the chia seeds until evenly blended. Pour into a jar or container and chill in the fridge overnight. If you have time, whisk the mixture--or shake it gently a few times to make sure it gels evenly.

When ready to enjoy, scoop into bowls and serve topped with fresh fruit and whatever else you like.

Notes/Results: As much as I dislike tapioca and those mushy spheres, I adore chia seed pudding. There's something about how creamy it becomes, but then the crunch of the seeds (which I like--think of poppy seed dressing or muffins) make it a little different and interesting--much like this book. This vanilla chia seed pudding was an excellent blend of vanilla flavor, sweet, but not too sweet and perfect with the blueberries and peaches. I ate it for lunch and will be having some for dessert and for breakfast--I think it counts as an all-day food. I'll happily make it again.

And once again, how gorgeous is this cover?!?

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Garden of Blue Roses" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of the Novel "White Fur" by Jardine Libaire, Served with a Recipe for Strawberry-Peach Chia Seed Jam (& a Giveaway!)

I'm excited to be today's stop for the TLC Book Tour of the novel, White Fur by Jardine Libaire. Along with my book review, I'm offering up a recipe for easy and delicious Strawberry-Peach Chia Seed Jam--spread on toasted English muffins, inspired by my reading. There's also a chance to enter win a copy of the novel for yourself at the end of the post.  Happy Tuesday!

Publisher's Blurb:

A stunning star-crossed love story set against the glitz and grit of 1980s New York City

When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in public housing without a father and didn’t graduate from high school; Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. Nevertheless, the attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.

The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love, but also for their lives.
White Fur follows these indelible characters on their wild race through Newport mansions and downtown NYC nightspots, SoHo bars and WASP-establishment yacht clubs, through bedrooms and hospital rooms, as they explore, love, play, and suffer. Jardine Libaire combines the electricity of Less Than Zero with the timeless intensity of Romeo and Juliet in this searing, gorgeously written novel that perfectly captures the ferocity of young love.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Hogarth (May 30, 2017)

My Review:

White Fur was a journey for me--I wasn't quite sure what I had gotten into and whether I was going to enjoy it. It took me a while to get into the actual story, even longer to care about the main characters, their romance, and how things might turn out, but Jardine Libaire's visceral writing pulled me along like a strong current until I was caught up in this wild, whirling book and didn't want to put it down. Starting with the first page--set in a motel room in June of 1987 with Elise holding a gun pressed to Jamey's chest and him asking "Don't you love me?"--you know that it is going to be a crazy ride, then it heads to January 1986 when these two young people meet in Connecticut and learn how they got to that motel room eighteen months later. Most of the book takes place in New York City in 1986 and the writing sets a wild and gritty tone full of excess and dark passion. New York in the 80s--the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes almost becomes a character itself and was my favorite part of the book. Neither Jamey or Elise were easy people to like or connect with--she is tough, raw and defiant, from the wrong side of the tracks and quickly sets her sights on Jamey. He is rich, spoiled, and self-destructive and seems to want Elise because of just how much his family and friends will disapprove of her, and of him. These aren't people I would want to hang out with, but they are compelling and hard to look away from. If you are looking for a simply written story of sweet love, White Fur isn't for you, but if you want an edgy, gritty romance that pounds off the pages with messy emotion, it's a book worth reading.


Author Notes: Jardine Libaire is a graduate of Skidmore College and the University of Michigan MFA program, where she was a winner of the Hopwood Award. White Fur is her second novel for adults. She lives in Austin, Texas.

You can connect with Jardine via her website, Facebook, or Twitter.


Food Inspiration:

I was surprised at how much food was in White Fur. I had about four pages of notes of the food mentioned by the time the book was done that included New York restaurant food like pizza, sushi, chop suey, and Chinese food, escargots, potage aux pommes, oysters, steak tartare, New York strip, prime rib, lobster, salmon, filet mignon, profiteroles, Indian food, duck lo mein, dumplings, rack of lamb, iles flottantes, cabbage soup, lemon tarts, grilled cheese sandwiches, hamburger pitas, a cheeseburger, and a turkey club with fries. Like Jamey and Elise, the food ranged from rich and expensive to more common and inexpensive like a Balducci's order of French goat cheese, fresh squeezed juice, English muffins, lemon curd, rib-eyes, champagne grapes, fresh pasta from Italy, Perrier, romaine salad, shrimp with cocktail sauce, bagel and capers, contrasting with McDonald's Hamburger Helper, Christmas nachos with red and green peppers, Cheez-Whiz, bacon, egg 'n' cheese, macaroni and cheese, Pringles, hot dogs and Dr. Pepper. There was plenty of alcohol and a Puerto Rican feast of yellow rice, pork shoulder, green sofrito, and caramelized plantains.

For my book-inspired dish I was pulled towards strawberries that were mentioned a few times, in different ways--in a "story about strawberries and a sunburn," in strawberry ice cream, wrapped in an Air India napkin, and on the "English muffins toasted with cheap strawberry jam" that Elise eats with the Pakistani cabdrivers who hang out at a deli she likes. I got a sudden craving for English muffins with strawberry jam and decided to make some chia seed jam rather than use the cheap stuff. ;-) I added the peach to mix things up a bit and because I though it might give the jam a more salmon-ish color like the gorgeous cover.

Chia seeds are my favorite way to make jam as they thicken it without pectin and excess sugar. I have made and posted several varieties of chia seed jam on the blog--you can check them out by clicking on the jams/preserves tag on my sidebar.

Strawberry-Peach Chia Jam
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 cups of Jam)

3 cups strawberries, fresh (or frozen, thawed), chopped
3 peaches fresh, (or frozen, thawed) peeled, pitted and chopped
2 Tbsp honey or sweetener of choice, or to taste
juice of one lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
4 heaping Tbsp chia seeds

Place strawberries and peaches in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring and as the fruit softens, use the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to smash it against the sides of the pan to break them down, leaving some chunks as desired. (I like plenty of chunks.) 

Once fruit is broken down to the consistency you want, remove from the heat and stir in the honey, lemon juice, extract, and chia seeds until thoroughly combined. Leave jam to cool to room temperature and thicken/set. Once jam is room temperature, transfer to a jar or airtight container and refrigerate. 

Store jam, tightly covered, for up to 3 weeks in the fridge. 

I used this jam on toasted English Muffins, spread with a bit of butter. It is also good mixed into yogurt with granola, used in a PB&J sandwich, stirred into or as a topping for vanilla ice cream or rice pudding, or mixed into a cocktail. A great way to welcome summer.

Notes/Results: This is a happy little jam for summer-perfectly sweet and so tasty. The strawberry is the predominant flavor but the peach is there in the background, rounding out things out. As you can probably see from the photos, I like a very chunky jam especially for sandwiches or as a topping as getting those little bites of fruit are one of life''s little pleasures.  English muffin perfectly toasted, a little bit of real butter spread on top and this jam and you are set for a snack or breakfast. I have some pecan butter from the natural foods store that I am going to pair it with next. I would happily make it again.

I'm linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "White Fur" was provided to me by the publisher, Hogarth, and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.

You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

***Book Giveaway***
The publisher is generously providing a copy of White Fur to give away (U.S./Canada addresses only, please) here at Kahakai Kitchen.

To enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below, leave a comment (Because I like to read them!) ;-) telling me your favorite flavor of jam or favorite summer fruit. 

There are a couple of other optional ways to get more entries to win: 1) Tweet about this giveaway or 2) follow me on Twitter (@DebinHawaii) and/or Author
Jardine Libaire (@Jardineraven), and/or Publisher Hogarth (@HogarthBooks) on Twitter. (Note: You can still get extra entries even if you already follow me, the author, or publisher on Twitter.)

Deadline for entry is 12:00 AM (HST) Thursday, June 15th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good Luck!