Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ginger. Show all posts

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "One Minute Later" by Susan Lewis, Served with a Recipe for Lemon-Ginger Iced Tea with Summer Berries

It's been a crazy busy and very humid week and I have found myself longing to do nothing more than hang out lazily with the fans blowing, a good book in one hand and a cold refreshing drink in the other. Today I have both with a review One Minute Later, a new novel by Susan Lewis for TLC Book Tours, paired with a glass of Lemon-Ginger Iced Tea with Summer Berries.

Publisher's Blurb:
International bestselling author Susan Lewis’ riveting, unforgettable novel of a woman whose life changes in an instant and the handsome young man with whom she shares a secret history—perfect for readers of Diane Chamberlain, Jodi Picoult and Susan Wiggs.
How well do you know the people you love? For one young woman returning to the past, the answer could be heart-shattering…
Vivi Shager is living her dream. Raised with drive and ambition by a resolutely single mother, Vivi has a thriving law career, a gorgeous apartment in London, and a full calendar that keeps her busy at work and at play. Then on the day of her twenty-seventh birthday, an undiagnosed heart condition sends Vivi’s prospects for the future into a tailspin. After escaping her roots nearly a decade ago, she’s forced to return to her childhood home to be cared for by her devoted and enigmatic mother. 

Vivi has always known the woman is hiding something and now she’s determined to find out what it is. Though her condition makes her fragile and vulnerable and she’s afraid of what may happen, her spirit remains strong. Then comes an unexpected ray of light.
Josh Raynor, a local veterinarian who his sisters claim is too handsome for his own good, brings a forbidden love to Vivi’s world. Josh and Vivi are soon inseparable, unaware of the past their families share. All Vivi knows is that Josh is wrestling with a demon of his own…
Then quite suddenly the awful truth is staring Vivi in the face and it changes everything.

Paperback: 512 pages  
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 11, 2019)

My Review: 

One Minute Later is my first book from Susan Lewis and I was pulled in by the storyline of Vivi who collapses on her birthday due to a previously undisclosed heart condition. She feels like her life is over when she is forced to abandon her career and lawyer friends, her flat in London and move back home to stay with her mother Gina while waiting for a heart transplant. It was a somewhat fractious relationship as Gina has kept all information about Vivi’s  birth father secret. We also meet Shelly, who a few decades earlier, building a farm life with her veterinarian husband and young family. Although it isn’t immediately clear what the connection is between these two women, the pieces start falling into place when Vivi meets Josh, a veterinarian and friends with Vivi’s best friend and her husband. There is an immediate attraction between the two of them that builds into a deep connection.

There is a bit of a mystery in putting all of the pieces of the story and family secrets together and I don’t want to spoil it by going into too much detail. There is a lot of sadness in the book, but love, hope and humor as well. Lewis paints a vivid picture of what someone on the transplant list goes through and introduces a real-life person into Vivi’s world.  Jim Lynskey, a young British man waiting for a heart transplant himself started a campaign called Save9Lives to bring awareness to the organ donor program and get people to sign up. In the book, Vivi befriends Jim and helps with the campaign. Since every day three people die waiting for an organ, this is such an important cause and conversation to have with your loved ones, and I liked how the book illustrates that. The story and characters touched my heart, made me think and kept me engaged throughout the book. Although not a light read, it’s a good one.


Author Notes: Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of more than forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense, and crime. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s. Following periods of living in Los Angeles and the South of France, she currently lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, James; stepsons, Michael and Luke; and mischievous dogs, Coco and Lulu.
Find out more at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.


Food Inspiration:

There was a good amount of food inspiration in the book and mentions included coffee, buttery croissants, Americano and a pastry, sushi, cider, eggs, homegrown spring onions, cabbages, carrots, lettuces, and tomatoes, homemade jam, bread, cake, cheese, pates, Wiltshire ham, fresh lemonade, cheese and pickle sandwiches, chocolate, spaghetti bolognese with Parmesan on top, plum crumble with fresh cream, elderfower wine, Spanish lemons for cheesecakes, possets and tarts, fruit cake, digestives, Kinder eggs, seam bream, fresh fruit with almonds, plm and ginger smoothie, fresh salads with all the right oils, luscious avocado and salmon salsa,  organic burgers and sausage, chocolate strawberries, mushroom bourguignon, Sunday roasts, cookies, hot chocolate, spicy punch and roasting chestnuts, minced pies and mulled wine.

Although I was intrigued by the avocado salmon salsa and the mushroom bourguignon, I ended up going with the iced tea that Vivi drank throughout the book--especially the iced tea made with strawberries and another with summer berries grown at Josh's family farm. Since Vivi needed to be eating and drinking more healthily, I modified an Elli Krieger recipe for a Lemon-Ginger Iced Tea with Berry Ice Cubes, using a berry-flavored white tea and using blueberries and strawberries in place of the raspberries.

Lemon-Ginger Iced Tea with Summer Berries
Adapted from
(Makes 4-6 servings)

1 cup (4 oz) raspberries, rinsed (I used blueberries & strawberries) 
water for ice cube trays, plus 8 cups water, divided
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup (2 oz) coarsely chopped fresh ginger (I reduced this to 1/3 cup)
6 white tea bags (I used Tazo Berry Blossom White Tea) 
3 lemons, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
lemon slices
mint sprigs, for garnish

Place about 4 raspberries in each compartment of an ice cube tray, 6 hours before serving iced tea. Fill with water and freeze. 

Place honey, 2 cups water and ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let mixture steep for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour, then strain out solids. In a pitcher combine strained liquid with 6 cups water and lemon juice. 

Chill in refrigerator.To serve, place 3 ice cubes in a tall glass and pour iced tea over cubes. Garnish with lemon slices and mint sprigs.

Notes/Results: Refreshing, not too sweet and a good combination of flavors with the lemon and ginger and the berry in the white tea and fresh berries. I could happily drink this all day long, especially in this humidity we are having this week. My heart-shaped ice cubes with the blueberries melted pretty fast in said humidity, but I think they were cute when I first put them in the glasses with the strawberry slices. I would make this again.

Linking this post and Ellie Krieger recipe to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is At the Beach! recipes suitable for enjoying by the shore.

I'm also 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 "One Minute Later" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, 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.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Within These Lines" by Stephanie Morrill, Served with a Recipe for Grilled Eggplant with Orange-Miso Sauce

I am very excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Within These Lines by Stephanie Morrill, a touching and absorbing young adult World War II novel. Accompanying my review is a recipe inspired by my reading, Grilled Eggplant with Orange-Miso Sauce

Publisher's Blurb:

From Stephanie Morrill, author of The Lost Girl of Astor Street, comes Within These Lines, the love story of a girl and boy torn apart by racism during World War II.
Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to an internment camp.
Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. 

Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.
With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

Hardcover: 352 Pages
Publisher: Blink (March 5, 2019)

My Review: 

I think it took me all of 30 seconds to sign up for this tour when I saw the email about it. If you ever read my reviews, you know that World War II historical fiction is a passion of mine and the mention of the Manzanar Relocation Center made me think of Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, one of my favorite young adult memoirs. Starting in junior high, I checked that book out regularly for years until I bought my own copy. Several years ago I was thinking of it again and bought myself another copy (mine long since gone) at the library bookstore. The sheer horror of the U.S. government interning Japanese Americans in internment camp with Executive Order 9066 is something that pains me and our recent political climate makes the mistakes from the past chillingly relevant today. Although Within These Lines is a novel, it is based on fact, and Taichi and the Hamasaki’s experiences in the internment camps are gripping and moving.

The heart of the story is the relationship between Evalina and Taichi, in a hidden relationship already when the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor on December 7. 1941. The book starts three months after the attack, when anger at the Japanese is erupting and the government begins the process of moving families of Japanese descent to the camps. Evalina, an Italian-American and Taichi, a Japanese-American would have faced challenges even before the war, with most states having miscegenation laws prohibiting marriage between different races, but after the attack the odds seem insurmountable. Although a romance, the book is really about the characters and their personal growth—particularly Evalina, as she begins to find her voice. It is poignant and had me tearing up a few times, but there is hope in the pages too.

Within These Lines is well researched and well written, with the mostly fictional characters seamlessly blending with actual people interned at Manzanar. Stephanie Morrill wrote so vividly that I felt like I could see Manzanar and feel the intense winds and grit of the constantly blowing sand. Northern California during the WWII era comes alive too, and I could feel the desperation of the characters and the anger and bigotry against them by so many, as well as the hearts of those who tried to help them. Although written primarily for young adults, it’s a novel equally appropriate for adults. My only complaint is that the ending felt a bit rushed and I wanted to know more about the characters—main and supporting and learn more details about their lives after the war. Morrill writes in the afterword about her research and her inspiration for the book and that gave me more books to explore on this important part of our history that should be remembered and never repeated.

Author Notes: Stephanie Morrill is the creator of and the author of several young adult novels, including the historical mystery, The Lost Girl of Astor Street. Despite loving cloche hats and drop-waist dresses, Stephanie would have been a terrible flapper because she can’t do the Charleston and looks awful with bobbed hair. She and her near-constant ponytail live in Kansas City with her husband and three kids. 

Connect with Stephanie on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration: 

The food in Within These Lines reflects the times, both in the San Francisco setting where Evalina’s Italian family owns a restaurant and the Hamasaki family grew produce, and in the Manzanar Relocation Center where the Hamasaki family is relocated to, and where Taichi works in the kitchen in his housing block. Mentions included jars of olives, strawberries, lettuce, asparagus, eggplant and blackberries, marinara sauce with veal and beef meatballs, onions and tomatoes, eggplant parmesan, tangerines, lemon bars and tea, mochi, chicken salad and egg salad sandwiches, gnocchi, linguine with clam sauce, Vienna sausages and bologna sandwiches with a side of rice and canned peaches, chicken with brown sauce , stew, deep-fried rice balls rolled in sugar, lemonade, lasagna, meat ball sandwiches, fresh mozzarella, carrot sticks, spinach, blueberries and strawberries, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, fennel, tomatoes and lemons, fish, cranberries, and rice pudding.

I thought about making mochi as the Hamasaki family eats it for breakfast on the day they are relocated to the camp. I also considered something with blackberries—Evalina’s favorites, or rice since it is a part of both Italian and Japanese cuisines or some type of Italian-Japanese fusion dish. Ultimately I decided that I needed to include the oranges that are mentioned several times in the book. Mrs. Ling, a vendor of Chinese descent who sells produce in the farmers market along side the Hamasakis, gives one to Evalina and tells her it is for luck. She says that oranges are the perfect fruit as they are the easiest to share, and Evalina and Taichi share them a few times throughout the book. When I was Googling orange recipes I found one for a Orange-Miso Sauce from Eating Well magazine. I liked the Japanese-leaning ingredients and that it was served over eggplant—used frequently in both Japanese and Italian recipes.

When I was at the grocery store, I saw some locally-grown eggplant, not as long as a Japanese eggplant and not as round as an Italian eggplant, and labeled “hapa” –which is literally translated in Hawaiian to “part” or “mix” and refers to a person of mixed ethnic heritage. That seemed like a perfect fit for a dish for Taichi and Evalina. 

Eating Well says, “Mild, nutty flaxseed oil, the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, provides the perfect base for salty miso and sweet orange juice. This sauce is delightful over grilled eggplant, fish and chicken or used as a salad dressing.

Orange-Miso Sauce
Recipe by Jim Romanoff via
(Makes about 3/4 Cup)

1/2 cup sweet white miso
1 Tbsp orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup flaxseed oil or canola oil
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp mirin, (optional)

Combine miso, orange zest and juice, oil, ginger, rice vinegar and mirin (if using) in a small bowl and whisk until thoroughly blended.

Notes/Results: The sauce's orange & miso pairing is really good, especially with the addition of the rice wine and mirin and I liked the pairing with the eggplant. I am taking the leftover eggplant with some cooked shrimp to work for lunch as I think the sauce will pair well with seafood too. Rather than whisk my sauce, I did it the cheater's way and pulsed it in my blender. You must like orange and miso for this one, as the flavors come through predominately, but it worked for me and is an easy, almost pantry sauce as I usually have everything, including an orange or two, available. I will definitely make it 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.

Note: A review copy of "Within These Lines" 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.


Sunday, March 10, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Congee: Soupy Rice Comfort for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

A busy few weeks and a lack of sleep and good rest for a variety of reasons means I can't seem to shed the cough and cold I have been nursing. I needed something easy, satisfying and comforting this weekend, so I picked Congee. Technically it is a porridge rather than a soup, but it is soupy rice, and as host of Souper Sundays, I'll allow it. ;-)

It's been ten years since I made and posted congee on the blog (this one as part of Cook the Books, The Last Chinese Chef book club review). 

Congee is a lot about the toppings and for that one, I used topping from the book: tofu cubes, roasted peanuts, (Chinese) pickles, smoked ham (I ate meat back then!), scallions, greens, and re-hydrated wood ear mushrooms. For today's congee I kept the nuts and scallions and added capers in place of tiny pickles, sauteed oyster mushrooms, chili oil and a jammy soft-boiled egg. 

Ruth says "Nothing is easier to make than the classic Chinese breakfast . It's basically rice slowly cooked with lots of liquid. I like to use arborio rice, although it's not traditional; any kind of rice you have on hand will do. The ratio is about 1 cup of rice to 8 cups of liquid. I think it tastes best with chicken stock, although you can certainly use plain water."

Slightly Adapted from My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl
(Serves 4)

1 cup rice
chicken stock or liquid of choice (I used vegan non-chicken-style bouillon paste)

To serve: 
soy sauce
roasted peanuts, jammy hard-boiled eggs, sauteed (oyster) mushrooms, capers, chili oil and/or toppings of choice

Put the rice and liquid in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot, and let it simmer for an hour, stirring once in a while. 

The result is a thick, creamy porridge, a canvas for flavor. What you choose for garnish is completely up to you, but to me a julienne of ginger is essential, as is a little shot of really good soy sauce. Peanuts and scallions are nice, and shredded chicken or shiitakes are lovely too. It is the ultimate tonic: basic, fragrant, satisfying. 

Ruth notes: "A confession: in a pinch I've used leftover cooked rice, simply cooking it with lots of water and stirring until it collapses into the correct currency."

Notes/Results: Good flavor and texture make this the perfect comfort food, whether eaten for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack. I especially like how the jammy hard-boiled egg yolk mixes into the brothy rice, and the capers add their briny notes taking the place of tiny pickles. It made my stuffy nose better and I'm looking forward to enjoying more of it this week. I will make it again.

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme is Gimme a R!--Ruth Reichl recipes that feature ingredients that begin with the letter R. Here we have rice and roasted peanuts. 

And for Souper Sundays...

My friend Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared this tasty Baked Potato Soup and said, "Baked potato soup with a healthy twist.  Well, except the bacon topping 😏 On a cool day a homemade bowl of soup and a grilled cheese sandwich is just the ticket. Healthy, economical and absolute comfort food. This is another recipe I tried from SkinnyTaste. You use potatoes and cauliflower for the base. now the toppings are to your preference and we used bacon, cheese and scallions."

Thanks to Tina for joining me this week!  

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...


To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!