Showing posts with label granola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label granola. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Because I'm Worth It" by Linda Nielsen, Served with Nepenthe's Café Krevah Granola

I'm easing over the Wednesday hump with a book review and a recipe. Kahakai Kitchen is today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Because I'm Worth It, a novel by by Linda Nielsen. Accompanying my review is a recipe for my version of Nepenthe's Café Krevah Granola, inspired in part by the book's Big Sur setting.



Publisher's Blurb: 

An impressive contract combined with lavish perks influence Skye Topple to marry the boss’ daughter, Delaney Mae Anne Covington, a self-centered and spoiled southern belle. The “perfect” wedding is threatened when an alarming secret refuses to stay hidden. With no regard for anyone other than herself and her daughter, Delaney’s alcoholic mother takes control, inserting irrational solutions that leave mother and daughter looking foolish while a baby’s life, a grandmother’s love, and a man’s career hang in the balance. 

This is certainly not a North meets South story—more like South moves North and meets West, where what works for one family may not work for another. Choices must be made. Lives will be changed. One thing is for sure… Skye is smack dab in the middle when Big Sur life meets country club values.

Paperback: 346 pages
Publisher: TouchPoint Press (March 1, 2018)

My Review:

Because I'm Worth It starts well before the description on the publisher's blurb about the "perfect" wedding being planned by Delaney, a spoiled Chicago socialite and Terri Sue Ellen, her even more spoiled, plus alcoholic and really annoying, southern belle of a mother. The book begins in Big Sur, California, with the family of Sky Topple (the groom) then darts to Atlanta, Georgia to meet the family of the bride and it isn't until about fifty pages in that we actually get to know Delaney Covington and Skye Topple--who start as fairly obnoxious teenagers and don't improve with age. I really wanted to like Because I'm Worth It, I felt like it had strong potential, and there were times I did enjoy reading it--but it just wasn't the book for me. I found myself disliking most of the characters, some fairly intensely-Delaney, Terri Sue Ellen, Skye, and even Charles Covington (Delaney's father) who were so over-the-top annoying that they were more caricatures than characters. Terri Sue Ellen's dialogue is peppered with southern dialect that made my teeth grind with all of the "ahs" and "mahs" and distracted me from the story. In fact, for me, much of the dialogue in the book didn't seem natural--even from the characters I liked. The Topple family from Big Sur, with the exception of Skye--who wanted to escape his bohemian background and family, were all enjoyable and I found myself wanting much more of Melissa (Skye's mother) and her story and much less of everyone else. 

I found the writing strongest when the author was describing Big Sur and the Topple family's unique house and the surrounding landscape. About halfway through the book, things did start to pick up for me--there is some character growth for Delaney and Skye, an interesting twist is added, and some new (and likable) characters are introduced. There were more humorous moments and some touching ones, so I am glad I stuck with it and finished the story. The book and the author's previous work have some very good reviews on Amazon, so Because I'm Worth It is the book for some people and you can read their reviews and see if it might be for you. (There's a link to the TLC tour stops and other reviewers at the end of the post.) It definitely got me thinking about the beauty and spirit of Big Sur and it inspired some delicious granola, so I still came out a winner. ;-)

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Author Notes: Linda’s first book, Lasso the Stars, was published in 2011 under L.L. Nielsen. Her newest novel, Because I’m Worth It, is scheduled for release by TouchPoint Press in early 2018.
 
Find out more about Linda at her website, and find all her books at Author Central page.


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Food Inspiration:

There was a fair amount of food and a whole lot of alcohol in Because I'm Worth It. Mentions included herbal tea, sandwiches, lemonade, vodka in orange juice, coffee with extra cream and sugar, warm pecan buns, beer, cherry snow cones, peaches, pop-tarts and peanut butter, moonshine, bourbon, champagne, grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with homemade potato chips, peach bellinis, molasses, turkey and a Thanksgiving meal, martinis, soup, pumpkin pie, turkey sandwiches, a dish with warm Indian spices and vegetables, cookies, chicken, pizza, chocolates, coca cola, caviar and toast points, pies and casseroles, popcorn, green olives, a salad with a squeeze of lemon, salt-washed three times and no dressing, steak sandwiches and French fries, sole with lemon and capers and al dente vegetables, buttered bagels,  quiche, iced tea, fruit, Sherry, Scotch, Pinot Grigio, cheese and crackers, goat cheese, pasta with shrimp, apple cinnamon rolls, ollalieberries (like a blackberry), blackberries, tomatoes, eggs and bacon, granola, French toast, quail eggs with Danish smoked ham and Chardonnay mustard with toast points, roast with braised potatoes and veggies, Bloody Marys, pigs-in-a-blanket, green peas, chicken and dumplings, and BLTs. 


I knew I wanted to go with something related to Big Sur--my favorite parts of the book and so I narrowed in on the granola. There's a scene where spoiled Delaney is offered cereal by Pete. 

"Cereal?" Delaney looked surprised. "Oh, no thank you." She moistened her lips and continued, "I have a private brand of granola that's made for me. It's expensive, but I'm worth it." 

"Come again?"

"Ahh, it's specially formulated for my dietary needs based on my metabolism and nutritional requirements achieved through scientific testing, to assure me of a healthy start in the morning."

I went to a cookbook I reviewed about 8 years ago called My Nepenthe by Romney Steel. (You can see my review here) Nepethe is a classic and famed Big Sur restaurant that Steele grew up at, the granddaughter of the restaurant's founders. When I reviewed the book I had noticed the Café Kevah Granola recipe and had always meant to try it. Café Kevah is a small casual cafe on the  restaurant's grounds. In the book, Delaney's granola was specially formulated, but this one sounded delicious with cashews, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds added to the oats. I also liked that it has orange zest, along with the usual cinnamon. I modified the recipe slightly, based on what I had on hand--leaving out the wheat flakes and the powdered milk (sometimes used as a binder and protein source) and using a mix of black and regular sesame seeds and dried cranberries.


Romney says, “Low in commercial sweetener and oil, this granola is a healthy and tasty alternative to store-bought cereal. It is easy to make and stores well in a glass jar or a resealable plastic bag in the freezer. The recipe, a variation on the one we still use at the café, can easily be doubled or tripled. Sprinkle over yogurt or serve with milk. For a sweeter granola, that has more clusters, stir in 1/4 cup honey with the maple syrup."


Café Kevah Granola
Slightly Adapted from My Nepenthe by Romney Steel
(Makes About 6 Cups)

2 cups whole oats
1 cup wheat flakes (I omitted and added extra oats)
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds (I used a mix of regular and black sesame seeds)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup oat bran (I pulsed a heaping 1/3 cup oatmeal in my blender)
1/3 cup high-quality organic powdered milk (I omitted)
zest of one orange
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
(I added a large pinch of sea salt)
1/3 cup safflower oil (I used 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup boiling water
1/3 to 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (I used 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, wheat flakes, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, oat bran, powdered milk, orange zest, cinnamon, safflower oil, boiling water, and maple syrup, mixing well. Spread out on a baking sheet. Bake slowly, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. Stir in dried fruit when cooled. Store in an airtight container.
 

Notes/Results: I really like this granola. Every time I make homemade granola, it reinforces that you should never, ever buy it pre-made. Even the gourmet brands just don't have the same freshness and appeal as when you mix and bake it to your own preferences. The cashews add a decadent note and for some reason I have neglected to put sesame seeds in my granola and the orange zest was lovely with the cinnamon. I like my granola flakier than clumpy and so I used just the 1/3 cup of maple syrup--so it isn't overly sweet. With a handful topping the creamy Siggi's vanilla yogurt (my new favorite) and fresh blackberries, it was delicious and more like a dessert than breakfast. I have to go get more yogurt and berries and I will happily scarf down all of my granola and 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 "Because I'm Worth It" 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.