Showing posts with label Beverages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beverages. 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.


Friday, November 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Marilla of Green Gables" by Sarah McCoy, Served with a Recipe for Cranberry Cordial (+ Five Favorite Cranberry Recipes)

Happy Friday! I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy, the story of Marilla Cuthbert before we meet her in the Anne of Green Gables books. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Cranberry Cordial, my seasonal take on the red currant and raspberry cordials mentioned in the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness.

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (October 23, 2018)

My Review:

I jumped on this book tour both because I adore Sarah McCoy and her books (see my reviews of The Baker's Daughter and The Mapmaker's Children) and because the Anne of Green Gables books have had a place in my heart since childhood. Marilla Cuthbert was never my favorite character in the books--especially in the beginning when she is so cold to Anne, but she grew on me as the series unfolded. It's intriguing to learn about her and how she ended up unmarried and living with her bachelor brother when they decide to take in an orphan boy to help with the farm work and end up with Anne instead. In Marilla of Green Gables, Anne is not in the picture and instead we meet thirteen-year-old Marilla, growing up in her somewhat isolated family home on remote Prince Edward Island. Marilla's world is small and feels safe with her parents, older brother Matthew, and a new sibling soon to be born. Her world is shaken up with the arrival of her Aunt Izzy, her mother's twin and a shock to Marilla who had no idea her mother was a twin and really no concept that twins existed. Marilla starts to form a bond with Izzy when tragedy strikes and the baby is stillborn, Marilla's mother dies in childbirth, and she makes a promise to her that she will care for her father and brother. It's a promise that spurs Marilla to distance herself from her neighbor, family friend and romantic interest, John Blythe--and one that alters her future. 

It was a comment from Marilla about John Blythe in Anne of Green Gables that prompted McCoy to write this book... "John Blythe was a nice boy. We used to be real good friends, he and I. People called him my beau." McCoy's imagining of Marilla's early life is touching, interesting and offers insights not just about Marilla, but about other characters like Matthew Cuthbert, John, and Marilla's friend, Rachel Lynde. The book takes place from 1837 to 1876 and gives glimpses into the history of the times from the beginnings of women's suffrage to the impact of slavery and the U.S. Civil War in Canada and that country's own strife and rebellions. Marilla's story captured my imagination and touched my heart, as well as made me want to reread L.M. Montgomery's beloved series. Even if you aren't acquainted with Anne of Green Gables and its characters, if you like well-written historical fiction, books set in the nineteenth century, and books that take place in Canada, you will enjoy this one.

Author Notes: Sarah McCoy is the New York TimesUSA Today, and internationally bestselling author of the novels The Mapmaker’s Children; The Baker’s Daughter, a 2012 Goodreads Choice Award nominee; and The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico. She has taught English and writing at Old Dominion University and at the University of Texas at El Paso. She lives with her husband, an orthopedic sports surgeon, and their dog, Gilbert, in North Carolina.
Sarah enjoys connecting with her readers on Twitter at @SarahMMcCoy, on her Facebook Fan Page, on Instagram at @sarahmmccoy, or via her website,

Food Inspiration:

Sarah McCoy books have plenty of the foods of the time and setting of her stories and Marilla of Green Gables is no exception. Food mentions included bread, cocoa and gingersnaps, angel cake baked with red currant wine, sweet biscuits with sweet butter and homemade preserves, warm milk and sardines for Skunk (the family cat), picking sorrel for soup, cellar turnips and pickled vegetables, profiteroles filled with plum and crabapple preserves, black tea, dried red currants, Easter scones, porridge with maple syrup, potatoes, peas, roasted chestnuts, corn, butter nut cakes, brown bread, cake with strawberry jam, creamy neep soup (turnip soup), toffee puddings, guinea hens, spring bean succotash and sponge cake, soft-boiled eggs, cheese curds and apple slices, cabbage soups, asparagus, fruit juice, cordials, cucumber boats, pickled eggs with creamed mustard, herb bannock (a kind of bread), beef pie, mackerel, pea soup, breakfast oats, Darjeeling tea and vanilla cake, raspberry cordial, Dinner hampers filled with stewed oysters, biscuits and lemon pudding, jelly chicken, pickled cucumbers, cherry tarts, plum preserves, chocolates from London, ham and mushroom pastry, sweet almond gingerbread, beef olives, potato balls, cottage loaf, figs, a jar of sweets meats, and raisin Bath buns, fried potatoes and sausages, tomato stew, potato soup, string beans, pork and pea soup, baked sugar shortbread and maple creams, roasted beef, fruit cake, mulled currant wine, "buttermilk biscuits studded with sweet currants, sprinkled with cinnamon, and drenched in maple syrup," coffee, applesauce, jarred blue plums, leg of mutton with garlic and rosemary, ham with brown sugar and vinegar dressing, green peas, tart apple turnovers, oatcakes and cold bacon, and hotcakes. Whew!

For my book-inspired dish, I feel like the book called for either a fruit wine or a cordial--either the Cuthbert red currant versions or perhaps a raspberry cordial in honor of the Ladies Aid Society fundraising efforts. Either would be a pretty red color but, needs must, I also needed a cranberry recipe this week and so I looked for a recipe for an equally red cranberry liqueur or cordial recipe. In Diana Henry's Salt Sugar Smoke, she has several recipes for fruit syrups, liqueurs, and sharbats (Middle Eastern syrups). I ended up using her Black Currant Syrup recipe as my base, switching out the black currants for fresh cranberries.

Cranberry Cordial
Adapted from Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry

4 cups cranberries
juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1 1/2 cup sugar, or to taste

Put the fruit into a saucepan with 2 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, until the berries are completely soft and pulpy. 

Pour into a jelly bag suspended over a bowl to catch the juice, and let it sit overnight.

The next day, measure the liquid. Add the lemon juice and sugar (2 cups sugar for every 2 cups of liquid). Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then pour into a warm, sterilized bottle and seal. It will keep in the refrigerator for a couple of months.

Notes/Results: I'll be honest, I did this all in one night, pushing the berries through a lined sieve with a wooden spoon, then putting them back on the stove to cook down a bit with lemon and sugar. It would have been nice to let it sit overnight but I fell that there was still plenty of cranberry flavor coming through. The flavor is pleasantly sweet-tart--not too much of one or the other and deliciously fruity. You can mix it with water--plain or bubbly, or add it to a cocktail. I used an apple-flavored sparkling water and really enjoyed it. This would make a pretty gift in cute bottles for the holidays and it's a great way to use up extra bags of cranberries. I will happily make it again. 

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week is our Monthly Ingredient Challenge: Cranberries

Here are five of my other favorite cranberry recipes from our IHCC chefs:

Tessa Kiros Cranberry Syrup Two Ways

Jacques Pépin's Brie with Pistachio Crust & Cranberries

 Tessa Kiros's Cranberry Sorbet

Diana Henry's New York Sweet Cranberry Mustard

Nigella's Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies with Pistachios

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 "Marilla of Green Gables" 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.  


Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" by Barbara O'Neal, Served with a Strawberry-Coriander Lassi

I am excited to be on the TLC Book Tour for The Art of Inheriting Secrets by Barbara O'Neal--an author whose work I really enjoy. Accompanying my review is a unique and refreshing Strawberry-Coriander Lassi inspired by the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

When Olivia Shaw’s mother dies, the sophisticated food editor is astonished to learn she’s inherited a centuries-old English estate—and a title to go with it. Raw with grief and reeling from the knowledge that her reserved mother hid something so momentous, Olivia leaves San Francisco and crosses the pond to unravel the mystery of a lifetime.
One glance at the breathtaking Rosemere Priory and Olivia understands why the manor, magnificent even in disrepair, was the subject of her mother’s exquisite paintings. What she doesn’t understand is why her mother never mentioned it to her. As Olivia begins digging into her mother’s past, she discovers that the peeling wallpaper, debris-laden halls, and ceiling-high Elizabethan windows covered in lush green vines hide unimaginable secrets.

Although personal problems and her life back home beckon, Olivia finds herself falling for the charming English village and its residents. But before she can decide what Rosemere’s and her own future hold, Olivia must first untangle the secrets of her past.

Print Length: 359 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (July 17, 2018)

My Review:

Barbra O'Neal's books are perfect for when you want something on the lighter side to escape to and especially if you like that escape to have a foodie element. She writes women's fiction, often romantic fiction with heroines that may have tragedy or sadness in their past and are starting over, often discovering things about themselves and their pasts. Her characters are appealing and easy to root for. Take Olivia Shaw, the lead character in The Art of Inheriting Secrets, for example. Olivia recently lost her artist mother only to find that she has inherited a crumbling English estate and is now Lady Shaw--family history her mother never shared with her. Olivia heads to England to learn about her past and why it was kept from her and to solve the clues her mother has left her. In the village surrounding Rosemere Priory, Olivia meets a cast of characters including a hunky and younger roof thatcher, his sister--a talented cook and restaurant owner, an elderly friend of her grandmother in the titled set, who befriends and advises her, and a group of townspeople and neighbors that may be out to help her restore the estate or may want to buy it out from under her. I liked Olivia--I could relate to her sadness over losing her mother and I envied her job as a food and travel writer and editor for a food magazine. There are no big surprises in the story, the romance, and the family mystery--but that's okay. Sometimes I just need a book that draws me in, takes me away, keeps me absorbed (and occasionally drooling over the food), and leaves me feeling satisfied--and The Art of Inheriting Secrets accomplished it all. A great book for your end of summer reading list and if you haven't experienced Barbara O'Neal's writing before, I also recommend her How to Bake a Perfect Life, The Secret of Everything, and The Garden of Happy Endings.  


Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of eleven novels of women’s fiction, including How to Bake a Perfect Life and The Lost Recipe for Happiness. Her award-winning books have been published in a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. Barbara lives in the stunningly beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

Barbara O'Neal writes great foodie novels and so there was plenty of food inspiration to choose from in The Art of Inheriting Secrets--especially Indian cuisine from one of the side character's restaurant--called Coriander and some classic English fare. Food mentions included fish-and-chips, ale, a hearty English breakfast of eggs, beans and tomatoes, a venison stew, cinnamon rolls and Chelsea buns, paneer prawn tikka with mango chutney and red onion, papadum with mint coriander chutney, raita, paneer, lamb kheema with jeera rice, gulab jamun, chicken shawarma and Israeli salad, carrot cake, hot chocolate, lemonade, fresh strawberries, lemony soup with parsley and spring onion, fish and rice, oatmeal with blueberries, a strawberry-coriander smoothie (aka: a 'posh' lassi), asparagus with soft eggs and toast and coconut asparagus with black mustard seed, cumin, garlic and chiles, a latte, mulligatawny, chapatti, a rose lassi, chai, donuts, and nutbreads, scones and tea.

Any number of the Indian dishes mentioned would have made me happy, but the Strawberry-Coriander Lassi (which Pavi a smoothie as it sold better that way) kept calling to me and so it had to be my book-inspired dish. I love a good, cool and creamy lassi (there are six on the blog right now, including a Vegan/Dairy-Free Mango Lassi I recently made for another book review.) I decided to make this one without dairy too. It's not traditional as they usually include yogurt, but with some recent hazy skies already this week, my asthma and allergies didn't need any help in making me stuffier. If you want a more traditional version, replace the non-dairy ingredients with milk and regular yogurt. 

Vegan/Dairy-Free Strawberry-Coriander Lassi
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 2)

2 1/2 cups frozen strawberries
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup non-dairy yogurt, plain or vanilla
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro leaves
sweetener of choice to taste if needed/desired--I used 2 tsp of maple syrup in mine
ice cubes/ice water, if needed/desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a little ice water or ice cubes as needed and continue to blend until smooth and pourable. Serve immediately. Any leftovers can be stored, cover in the fridge for a day or so.   

Notes/Results: I loved the hit of of coriander with the sweetness of the strawberries--it makes the lassi even more refreshing. Of course, if you are not a fan of cilantro, you can omit it. I left out any additional spices or flavors wanting to keep the strawberries and cilantro the focus, but you could pop in some cinnamon or coriander or even a little rosewater if desired. The lassi got a little short-shifted in the picture department as I was not able to take photos in daylight and I was exhausted getting home from work and commuting this week, but it made for a delicious and reviving part of my evening meal and the leftovers were a great breakfast drink. I will happily make it again.

Garlic and Sapphires is my eighth foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2018 event. You can check out the August 2018 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.   

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: This week I'm hosting so look for the post here on Saturday!) ;-)

Note: A review copy of "The Art of Inheriting Secrets" 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.