Showing posts with label historical food. Show all posts
Showing posts with label historical food. Show all posts

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Book Tour Stops Here: Review of "The Girl from The Savoy" by Hazel Gaynor, Served with a Recipe for an Earl Grey Gin Fizz with Homemade Earl Grey-Honey Syrup

It's a two TLC Book Tour kind of week! Today's tour stop has us traveling to London for The Girl from the Savoy by Hazel Gaynor, a glittering historical novel about what happens after the Great War in Britain ends, the age of jazz, the bright lights of the theater, and two women--one, a star of the London stage and the other, a hotel chambermaid with dreams of being discovered. Along with my review, I am serving up a recipe for a wonderful Earl Grey Gin Fizz, with homemade Earl Grey-Honey Syrup, inspired by the book. 


Publisher's Blurb:

London, 1923: Welcome to The Savoy hotel, a glittering jewel in London’s social scene, where the lives of the rich, the famous, and the infamous intertwine.

Here, amid the cocktails and the jazz, two women with very different pasts try to forget the devastation of the Great War and forge a new life in a city where those who dare to dream can have it all.

Dolly Lane is The Savoy’s newest chambermaid, her prospects limited by a life in service. But her proximity to the dazzling hotel guests fuels her dreams—to take the London stage by storm, to wear couture gowns, to be applauded by gallery girls and admired by critics . . . to be a star, just like her idol, Loretta May.

The daughter of an earl, Loretta has rebelliously turned her back on the carefully ordered life expected of a woman at the top of society’s elite. She will love who she wants, and live as she likes. Outwardly, her star burns bright, but Loretta holds a dark secret. She alone knows that her star cannot burn forever.

When an unusual turn of events leads Dolly’s and Loretta’s lives to collide, they must both learn to let go of their pasts in order to hold on to what they most desire.

Paperback: 448 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 7, 2016)

My Review:

I jumped on this tour because I enjoy historical fiction--especially set around either WWI or WWII, and I loved the author's second book A Memory of Violets (My review + recipe are here). Her first book about the Titanic, has been on my Kindle forever and I keep vowing to get to it. (I will! I will!) The Girl from The Savoy is similar in style to A Memory of Violets in that it follows multiple characters, is told from differing perspectives, and has some twists and turns that unfold with the story. We meet Dolly (Dorothy) Lane in the prologue, as she says goodbye to her childhood love Teddy, as he heads off to war in 1916. So many young lives were lost in the Great War, that although he promises that they will be married in the summer and have babies and the quiet life they always talked about, the prospects are not good. We catch up with Dolly again in 1923 as she is about to start her first day of employment at the famous Savoy hotel and bumps into returned soldier and uninspired composer Perry Clements. Perry is headed to weekly tea with his sister, the famed stage star Loretta May (in reality society darling and titled Lady Virginia Clements), at the height of her success (everything that Dolly dreams of) but is struggling with her own issues. Finally, mixed into Dolly and Loretta's stories we hear from Teddy, Dolly's boyfriend, who did return from the war but came back with an injured leg and severe 'shell shock'--what we call PTSD today--and in 1919 is in a hospital ward unable to remember much about his life and anything about Dolly, even with a young nurse reading him the many letters from Dolly that were found with him. Dolly and Loretta end up connecting through Perry when Loretta encourages him to hire Dolly as his muse since he has been unable to forget her since bumping into her. Loretta grooms Dolly to fit into their social circle and for the stage, and they find that as different as they are in life and in their upstairs/downstairs social statures, they have much in common when it comes to loss and heartbreak.  

Hazel Gaynor does an amazing job of vividly describing the time periods she writes about--you can see the meticulous details of the research she does while feeling the passion she has for her subject. London, The Savoy, the theaters, the music, and the whole era come to life in her writing. The main characters are well written, particularly Dolly, whom I felt that I got to know and understand the most. There is a lot of story, backstory, and characters in the 400-ish pages, which means that some of the secondary characters' stories aren't as complete as I would have preferred. For the most part the different perspectives and shifts in time flowed well, but there were a few instances when I had to go back and determine what year I was reading about so that I understood the context. There are definite twists and turns in the book, most of which I saw coming, but which added to the emotional pull and poignancy of the story. There is a lot of heartbreak in the book but as the titles of the three sections (cleverly called "Acts" to fit with the theater scene) relay, there is also "Hope," "Love" and "Adventure" to be found.  

If you like your summer books to transport you, you are a fan of historical fiction, jazz, and London, and/or you are missing Downton Abbey since it ended, you'll enjoy this book as much as I did.  


-----

Author Notes:  Hazel Gaynor’s 2014 debut novel The Girl Who Came Home—A Novel of the Titanicwas a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. A Memory of Violets is her second novel. Hazel writes a popular guest blog ‘Carry on Writing’ for national Irish writing website writing.ie and contributes regular feature articles for the site, interviewing authors such as Philippa Gregory, Sebastian Faulks, Cheryl Strayed, Rachel Joyce and Jo Baker, among others. Hazel was the recipient of the 2012 Cecil Day Lewis award for Emerging Writers and was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. She appeared as a guest speaker at the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Historical Novel Society annual conferences in 2014. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland with her husband and two children. 

Find out more about Hazel at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

-----

Although not a foodie book, there is quite a lot of alcohol/cocktails in The Girl from The Savoy and some occasional food mentions too. Food-wise, Dolly eats pretty simply at the hotel--most notably toast triangles and pats of butter and porridge for breakfast and cocoa with bread and butter at nine, before bed. When she and her friend Clover go dancing, they often stop for a meal of poached eggs and toast afterward. Loretta and her brother Perry meet for tea at the Winter Garden at Claridge's where tiny tea sandwiches with cucumber, tarragon, and smoked salmon and miniature cakes and strawberry tarts might be served, along with Earl Grey tea. There are also mentions of Marie biscuits, milk rolls, Christmas Pudding, chocolates, humbugs (a hard-boiled sweet) at the movies, blackberries and gooseberries, cherry cake that Perry's advertisement for a muse mentions as 'payment' and that he and Dolly share with tea, and chunks of bread and pickled onions that the stage performers tuck into between acts. For alcohol there was champagne, absinthe, scotch, hot port, martinis, a tray of "gemstone-colored cocktails" and Loretta May's gin--consumed straight and in gin and tonics and a gin fizz, and about which she said, "Gin is an acquired taste, and once acquired, it is rarely lost."


For my book inspired dish, I decided to pair the Earl Grey tea and gin that Miss May imbibed so frequently into an Earl Grey Gin Fizz. A gin fizz is usually a mixture of gin, lemon juice and carbonated water or soda--although variations can include egg whites, sparkling wine (usually called a French 75), or other mix-ins. 

I made an Earl Grey-Honey Syrup to add to my gin fizz--essentially a tea-steeped simple syrup but using honey instead of white sugar and adding a little vanilla. I sometimes find Earl Grey tea on its own to be a bit like Dolly considered it--"It is like drinking a bottle of perfume"--but I do like it mixed into lattes or mixed with other flavors, where it isn't the entire focus. I wanted my syrup to have plenty of Earl Grey flavor so it stands out, but thought the honey and vanilla would mellow it and round it out. The result is quite a lovely and refreshing drink. 


Earl Grey Gin Fizz
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 2 Cocktails)

3 oz gin of choice
2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz Earl Grey-Honey Syrup--recipe below
ice 
cold club soda
lemon slices or peels for garnish

Place gin, lemon juice, syrup and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until well-mixed. Strain into glasses (fill glass with ice if desired, I didn't) and add cold club soda to fill. Garnish with lemon peel and enjoy! 


Earl-Grey Honey Syrup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2/3+ cup)

1 cup cold water
2 tea bags Earl Grey tea
1/2 cup honey of choice
1 tsp vanilla extract

In small pan, bring the water to just below a boil. Once the water is about to boil, add the tea bags, turn off the burner, cover the pan and allow teabags to steep for 5 minutes. Remove lid, add the honey to the tea and turn on burner heat to medium. Cook, stirring until honey is completely dissolved into the tea mixture. Once honey is dissolved, remove pan from heat, stir in vanilla extract, and allow syrup to cool completely. Once cool, remove tea bags from syrup and pour syrup into an airtight container and place in fridge until ready to use. Syrup should keep for several weeks tightly covered in fridge.


Notes/Results: Crisp, not-too-floral, bubbly and refreshing--this is quite a tasty cocktail. You get the sophisticated notes of the Earl Grey, the warmth of the honey, the bright citrus from the lemon and the slightly piney essence of the gin but they blend together well and nothing overpowers the other ingredients. The gigantic lemon spirals are because I was reading about spiralizing fruit with my Inspiralizer and thought they were more fun than a plain slice or zest. Very happy with both this drink and my Earl Grey-Honey Syrup, the remainder of which which will also probably end up in a London Fog Latte or maybe over some berries for fun. I will happily make both recipes again. 


I'm linking up this review and recipe 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 "The Girl From the Savoy" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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 Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.

 
 

Monday, December 28, 2015

Apricot Marmalade on Baguette & Raspberry Drinking Shrub Sodas for Food 'N Flix December: The Jane Austen Book Club

This month's Food 'N Flix pick is The Jane Austen Book Club, a film based on the book of the same name by Karen Joy Fowler. Being a huge Jane Austen nerd (you'll see more evidence of this later in the post), this film is in my large collection of Austen-inspired films and adaptations and I was excited that Kimberly of Coffee and Casseroles selected it this month. (You can check out her announcement post here.) It inspired me to drag out my copy of The Jane Austen Cookbook (did I mention that whole Jane Austen nerd thing?) and have a little historical fun in the kitchen this weekend, adapting a couple of Georgian/Regency style recipes into more modern book club bites.


If you haven't seen the film or read the book, the title explains it pretty well... it's about a group of six--five women and one man--who form a book club around the six classic Jane Austen novels, reading a novel each month. The group's own lives and their various issues such as loss, infidelity, dissatisfaction, unrequited love, disappointment, etc. mirror many of Austen's own themes. (As one of the characters, Jocelyn, notes--"Reading Jane Austen is a freaking minefield.") As a person with a tendency to dip into Jane Austen (or Austen-inspired) books or movies when I need an escape from the real world, I can relate to finding solace and comfort there. It's good rom-com-dramady fun, light and sweet.


I read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler several years ago and although I liked it, I actually like the movie more. I attribute that to a combination of the actors--Amy Brenneman, Jimmy Smits, Kathy Baker, and (an adorable) Hugh Dancy to name my favorites--it's a great ensemble. I also like the way that Robin Swicord, the director (and writer of the screenplay) adapted the book--there are differences in some of the characters and plot points from the book to the film that I think improved the story and there is less emphasis on each character's backstory--which in my opinion made the book a little 'draggy" at times. It is fun to match the various movie/book characters to Jane Austen's originals and Swicord gives some great commentary about the various match-ups of the book's characters to Austen's on one of the "extras" included on the DVD.


It had been a while since I had seen the movie and I had never watched it looking for food inspiration, so it was a fun challenge to decide what to make. For the most part, the food is shown in quick glimpses in the background--coffee and pastry at Starbucks, a few restaurant meals, a dozen eggs for a flan... Most of the book club fare is shown quickly--dips and finger foods and plenty of wine and cocktails. I ended up finding my inspiration in a conversation the characters had about setting up the book club at the local Starbucks where the group picks their books to host. Sylvia (Amy Brenneman) says, "Let's not get into the competitive cooking thing" while Bernadette (Kathy Baker) chants "Bake-off!" Jocelyn (Maria Bello) chimes in with "No, we'll do finger foods" and Sylvia says, "We can do takeout." It was Jocelyn's final food/hosting comment that got me thinking the most... "We have to create the Jane Austen mood."  


If I were in an actual Jane Austen book club, you can bet that I would be trying to create the Jane Austen mood, and what better way than taking inspiration from The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deidre Le Faye? I bought this cookbook at a used book store a few years ago with the intention of someday making White Soup to accompany one of my re-reads of Pride and Prejudice. (Yep--Jane Austen nerdiness...) That plan never quite happened and the cookbook has sat on my shelves, but I knew there had to be a recipe or two in there that would be appropriate for book club noshing.


I didn't really feel like baking and wanted something in the finger food category that was relatively simple. Marmalett of Aprecoks (aka Apricot Marmalade) quickly caught my eye. At the beginning of the movie, Sylvia and her husband are eating at the Marmalade Cafe--which I thought was an adorable name for a restaurant. Of course it is where he tells her he has been unfaithful and wants out of the marriage to be with the other woman so I feel a bit bad in having that as a small part of my inspiration--but oh well! ;-) A couple of pages later, I found a Raspberry 'Vinegar' (Cordial) which was a happy coincidence since I have been wanting to make a fruit 'drinking shrub' ever since enjoying an apple shrub in a cocktail a few months ago. (A shrub is a drinking vinegar, usually infused with fruit or herbs and used in sodas or mixed drinks.) The cordial recipe seemed close to a shrub, although I updated the preparation slightly due to time and served mine with soda instead of stirring it into cold water as the book prescribes. Both recipes--Apricot Marmalade on Baguette & Raspberry Drinking Shrub Sodas--were easy enough, fun to make, and really delicious. 

Below are the recipes from the book, my updates/changes are noted in red.


The Apricot Marmalade is made with 'pipin' water--or apple water made from the peelings and cores of apples (natural pectin) which I thought sounded fun. To update the marmalade and turn it into an appetizer, I served it on grilled baguette with a schmeer of labneh (strained yogurt cheese) to offset the sweet.

The Jane Austen Cookbook notes that "when made before 1740, marmalett might be either a fruit paste or a whole-fruit jellied conserve made with apple-water  and sometimes called a jelly. Preserves like these, including jams. stayed largely unchanged until the nineteenth century."

Mamalett of Aprecoks
Adapted from The Jane Austen Cookbook

12 oz /350 g dried apricots
10 fl oz/275 ml/1 1/4 cups apple water (see method below)
1 1/4 lb/350 g/3 cups preserving sugar (I used 2 cups coarse sugar)

Cut up dried apricots and soak in water for several hours or overnight. While soaking them, make apple water as follows: was, peel, and core cooking apples (I used Gala apples), and put the peelings and cores into a large saucepan. They should just be covered when you add 1 pint / 575 ml water. Simmer, covered, until they are very soft and the water is well flavoured. Measure the water to make sure you have well over 10 fl oz / 275 ml apple water. (Note: I added a cinnamon stick and a tangerine peel to my apple peels before simmering for extra flavor.) 

Drain the apricots and put them in a large sauce pan or a preserving pan with the sugar. Add the apple water and bring slowly to the boil, skimming occasionally. Cook steadily until the syrup sheets a spoon and drips from it slowly in blobs, then skim again and test for setting quality by dropping a few drips on a cold plate. They should 'jelly' on contact with the plate.

Pour the marmalett into hot jars: to avoid making air bubbles, pour it down the side of the jar. Take out any bubbles that do form by prodding with a skewer. Cover the preserve with waxed paper circles and leave to cool. Once cool, cover the jar or jars and label them with the name of the preserve and date made. Do not rely on your memory. Store the marmalett in a cool, dry place. (Note: I poured  into a sterile canning jar, cooled, capped jar and stored in fridge.)


About the raspberry cordial, The Jane Austen Cookbook notes: "This used to be a great treat for country children, but is more often used now as a drink for wise drivers. (Orgeat was a similar cooling drink made from barley or almonds and orange-flower water.)"

Raspberry "Vinegar' (Cordial)
Adapted from The Jane Austen Cookbook
(Makes about 3 pints)

3 lb /1.4kg  fresh or defrosted frozen raspberries
3 pints/1.7 litres/7 1/2 cups distilled white vinegar
white sugar

Put the raspberries and vinegar in a bowl and leave. covered for 5-6 days, stirring occasionally. Mash well and strain through a jelly bag without extracting any pressure. Measure the liquid and allow 1 lb /450g sugar to each pint of liquid. Bring to a boil slowly, stirring well to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 20 minutes. Skim and leave until cold. 

(Note: Due to time constraints, I used a hot-process method and used 12 oz thawed, frozen raspberries. I made a simple syrup with one cup sugar ad one cup water, heating it in a medium saucepan until the sugar dissolved. I then added the raspberries and brought to a simmer, reducing heat to low, and simmering until the fruit melts into the liquid--about 20 minutes. I stirred in 3/4 cup champagne vinegar and 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar and simmered for another 5 minutes or so.I strained the shrub into a jar, discarding the solids and letting it cool before storing, tightly covered in the fridge.)

Pour into sterilized bottles or jars and seal tightly. Use a tablespoon of raspberry vinegar in a glass of cold water as a cooling drink or to soothe a cold or fever. If you want a fuller flavoured drink, use a little more of the mixture. (For sodas, I added 1 Tbsp to a short glass, topped with ice and poured in soda water, garnishing with fresh berries and a rosemary sprig.)


Notes/Results: Both the jam and the shrub were fabulous--great flavor and fun to make, with a little cooking history lesson thrown in too. If I hadn't procrastinated and given myself more time, I would have tried the cold process version of the shrub and plan to remake it that way soon, but I was really pleased with the flavor of the hot processed one. It has a sweet-tart taste that makes for a sophisticated soda and will be a wonderful base for cocktails. I see plenty of shrub experimentation in my future. The sodas made a good pairing with the marmalade-spread baguettes, they and the labneh kept the too-sweet factor down. I did reduce the sugar by about a cup in the jam and worried that it might not set up, but it was not a problem with the natural pectin from the apple water. I liked the extra touch of flavor that the cinnamon and tangerine I added to the simmering apple water gave the marmalade and since I prefer a chunky jam, I didn't break up my apricot pieces too much. I will happily make both recipes again. The only downside was getting the lyrics to Lady Marmalade stuck in my head for hours... Itchi gitchi ya ya da da... ;-) 


The deadline for December's Food 'N Flix is today and Coffee & Casseroles will be rounding up the entries on her blog soon. If you missed out on this month's fun and like food, movies and foodie movies, consider joining us for January's pick: Failure to Launch, hosted by Amy's Cooking Adventures.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "I Shall Be Near To You" by Erin Lindsay McCabe--Served with Johnnycakes with Maple Syrup

"And then I see the map, still on the bedside stand. I sit on the edge of the bed and unfold it carefully. Jeremiah has made a heart at Flat Creek and a star at Herkimer. But in the Nebraska Territory he has written, I shall always be near to you."  

It's those words scrawled by her husband on the map he left when he went to fight with the Union army, a feeling of never quite belonging in her family and community, and her deep love for her husband, that moves Rosetta Wakefield to join the army herself, disguised as a man. "I Shall Be Near To You" by Erin Lindsay McCabe is an amazing and moving story based on real life events and Kahakai Kitchen is today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for this intriguing Civil War drama.   


Publisher's Blurb:

In I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU, McCabe introduces us to newlywed Rosetta Wakefield. More accustomed to working as her father’s farmhand and happiest doing what others might call “man’s work,” Rosetta struggles with how to be a good wife to her childhood beau and new husband, Jeremiah. When Jeremiah leaves home to join the Union army, Rosetta finds the only way she can honor Jeremiah is to be with her husband—no matter what..

Cutting off her hair and donning men’s clothing, Rosetta enlists in the army as Private Ross Stone so that she might stand beside her husband. Joining, however, is the easy part, and now Rosetta must not only live and train with her male counterparts as they prepare for imminent battle, but she must also deal with Jeremiah, who is struggling with his “fighting” wife’s presence, not to mention the constant threat of discovery..

In brilliant detail, inspired by the letters of the real Rosetta Wakeman, McCabe offers a riveting look at the day-to-day lives of these secret women fighters as they defied conventions and made their personal contributions to history. Both a tender love story and a hard look at war, I SHALL BE NEAR TO YOU offers a unique exploration of marriage, societal expectations, and the role of women in the Civil War through the lens of a beautifully written novel.

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Broadway Books (September 2, 2014)


My Review: 

What a wonderful and engrossing book--one of my favorites for the year for sure. Civil War era historical fiction is not a category I normally gravitate to but I was intrigued by the story and I am glad I gave it a try. I had no idea that at least 200 women were documented as having fought in the Civil War, dressed and acting as male soldiers. I Shall Be Near To You is based on these women--one in particular, Sarah Rosetta Wakeman, a New York woman who fought for the Union Army as Pvt. Lyons Wakeman. (Read more about Wakeman here). The courage and fortitude of these women was fascinating to me.

I Shall Be Near To You is beautifully written and told through Rosetta's point of view. With this strong first person narrative, Rosetta really comes alive--her spirit, her stubbornness, her determination and grit. Seen through her eyes, the horrors of the war and especially the battlefield are chillingly portrayed. Although it is a love story (and what a love Jeremiah and Rosetta have for each other), the book doesn't bog itself down in the romance and reads more as an adventure story. I love it when a book makes me shiver, makes me smile, makes me cry, warms my heart, has me biting my nails, and sweeps me away to a different time and place--and this one did it all.

I was sad to have this book end--I wanted more time with Rosetta and after learning about these courageous women, I would love to know more about their lives after the war. (Hint, hint Erin Lindsay McCabe...) Lovers of adventure and strong female characters, and readers of historical and military fiction, women's fiction, and Civil War era stories will love this one. In fact, even if that doesn't describe you, do yourself a favor and pick up this book anyway--I bet you will love it too. 


Author Notes: Erin Lindsay McCabe studied literature and history at University of California, Santa Cruz, earned a teaching credential at California State University, Chico, and taught high school English for seven years. Since completing her MFA in Creative Writing at St. Mary’s College of California in 2010, Erin has taught Composition at St. Mary’s College and Butte College. A California native, Erin lives in the Sierra Foothills with her husband, son, and a small menagerie that includes one dog, four cats, two horses, numerous chickens, and three goats.


My dish inspired by the book was a bit of a challenge as food inspiration isn't always easy to come by in books where most of the action takes place in army camps or on the battlefield. In my review copy of the book was a sweet little note card from the author, who thanked me for being on the tour and hoped that I "wouldn't hold the terrible food in the book (hard tack & sow belly)" against her. I certainly don't! ;-) She offered up a ginger cake recipe that inspired Rosetta and Jeremiah's wedding cake in the story, as well as a hard tack recipe (no thank you) but I just wasn't feeling the urge to bake. There were mentions of other foods--mostly simple fare. Had I access to good fresh trout, I would have fried some up to represent a time when Rosetta and Jeremiah were young and he stood up for her against a bully and got the fish she caught back. An uncomfortable dinner for the newlyweds with Jeremiah's family included a 'feast' of lamb chops, potatoes, biscuits and canned peaches, while potatoes, eggs and various 'supper soups' were common meals. 

I finally decided to go with a simple Civil War era staple--Johnnycakes--kind of a cornmeal based flat bread/pancake/biscuit from a recipe on a Civil War site that stated "Johnnycakes were popular particularly in the Northeast but eaten across the United States since the 1600's. The recipe is very simple and fun to make.

On her second morning with the army, Rosetta, as Private Ross, cooks with rations of cornmeal and sow belly and her cornmeal biscuits sounded similar to the Johnnycake description. "I buck up and with the few things I've got I figure on making biscuits. I ain't got milk or butter, but water and sowbelly grease might do and anybody who sees fit to complain don't have to eat none."  

Unlike Rosetta, I did have milk and butter (no sowbelly grease needed), and maple syrup to douse the corn cakes in. Had Rosetta stayed at home with Jeremiah's family, she would have been "tending the sugarhouse" (women's work) instead of tapping the maple trees and collecting the syrup (men's work.) I served the Johnnycakes with coffee--also part of the soldiers' rations. 


Johnnycakes
Adapted from Civil War Recipes
(Makes about 10 small cakes)

1 cup water
1 1/2 cups ground yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
syrup, molasses, or preserves for topping

Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Combine the cornmeal, salt, boiled water, and milk in a medium bowl. Stir well. Melt the  butter in a skillet or a cast iron griddle over medium heat. Pour batter into the skillet,  pancake style to cook. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side until edges are lacy and lightly browned using a spatula to turn. Serve hot with molasses, maple syrup and butter.
 

Notes/Results: I am no Johnnycake expert (as you can clearly see from the pictures) and they probably won't be a go-to dish at my house, but these were better than I expected. Not too heavy, slightly chewy from the cornmeal, crispy on the edges. Of course with enough maple syrup, anything tastes good. It took me a bit to get smoothly into Johnnycake production after my first couple of misses (lower heat and smaller cakes are the way to go), but once you get going, they are quickly made and best eaten piping hot. With good strong coffee and lots of maple syrup, overall it wasn't a bad breakfast.
 

This review and the dish inspired by the book are being linked up at Novel Food--an event celebrating food inspired by the written word and hosted by my friend and fellow Cook the Books co-host Simona of Briciole. The deadline for this round of Novel Food ends Monday, October 6th. 


Note: A review copy of "I Shall Be Near To You" was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. 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 the TLC Book Tours and Reviews here.