Showing posts with label tea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea. 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.


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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.


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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 EllieKrieger.com
(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.


 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Song of the Jade Lily" by Kirsty Manning, Served with a Recipe for Tea-Soaked Hard-Boiled Eggs

I am excited to be the final stop on the TLC Book Tour for the World War II novel, The Song of the Jade Lily by Kirsty Manning. Accompanying my review are some  pretty Tea-Soaked Eggs, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb: 

A gripping historical novel that tells the little-known story of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai during WWII.

1939: Two young girls meet in Shanghai, also known as the “Paris of the East”. Beautiful local Li and Jewish refugee Romy form a fierce friendship, but the deepening shadows of World War II fall over the women as they slip between the city’s glamorous French Concession district and the teeming streets of the Shanghai Ghetto. Yet soon the realities of war prove to be too much for these close friends as they are torn apart.

2016: Fleeing London with a broken heart, Alexandra returns to Australia to be with her grandparents, Romy and Wilhelm. Her grandfather is dying, and over the coming weeks Romy and Wilhelm begin to reveal the family mysteries they have kept secret for more than half a century. As fragments of her mother’s history finally become clear, Alexandra struggles with what she learns while more is also revealed about her grandmother’s own past in Shanghai.

After Wilhelm dies, Alexandra flies to Shanghai, determined to trace her grandparents’ past. Peeling back the layers of their hidden lives, she is forced to question what she knows about her family—and herself.

The Song of the Jade Lily is a lush, provocative, and beautiful story of friendship, motherhood, the price of love, and the power of hardship and courage that can shape us all.

Hardcover: 480 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (May 14, 2019)

My Review:

Someday I will count up the number of World War II novels I have reviewed on this blog, or even books I have just read, without doing a book tour review. It is a time in history that interests me, particularly when author's explore the war from a different perspective or teach me something new. The Song of the Jade Lily does both as it looks at the war mostly from the point of view of Romy Bernfeld, a young Jewish girl from Vienna who flees Vienna to Shanghai with her parents in 1938. I didn't know that much about Shanghai during the war and just how many European Jewish refugees (over 20,000) they took in during the war. Romy's family does not escape unscathed, one of her older brothers is killed while trying to defend a neighbor from the Germans and her other brother is shipped off to the Dachau concentration camp. On the journey to Shanghai, Romy befriends Nina, a girl her age with her own tragic losses, and later in Shanghai, Romy and her family become friends with their neighbors, the Ho family. Romy and Li Ho become fast friends, along with Li's brother Jian. The book alternates the war timeline with 2016, when Romy's granddaughter, Alexandra takes a job in Shanghai and uses the time to inquire about her past, as her late mother was adopted by Romy and her husband Wilhelm, right after the war ended.

I was a little worried about being able to finish the book with the busy couple of weeks I was having and my limited reading time, but The Song of the Jade Lily was difficult for me to put down--I was completely caught up in the story and in the sights, sounds, and smells of Shanghai in wartime and in present day and wanted to dig in every chance I got. Kirsty Manning brings the pages to vivid life--the horrors or war and the power of love and friendship. Like most WWII novels, there is much sadness in the pages, but strength and resilience too. The afterward with the author's notes on the inspiration for the book as well as the list of resources she used to research her subject was interesting too. I hope to read more from her. If you like historical fiction, WWII stories, interwoven stories and time periods, strong female characters and different perspectives, add this one to your TBR list.

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Author Notes: Kirsty Manning grew up in northern New South Wales, Australia. She has degrees in literature and communications and worked as an editor and publishing manager in book publishing for over a decade. A country girl with wanderlust, her travels and studies have taken her through most of Europe, the east, and west coasts of the United States as well as pockets of Asia. Kirsty’s journalism and photography specializing in lifestyle and travel regularly appear in magazines, newspapers, and online. She lives in Australia.
 
Find out more about Kirsty at her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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Food Inspiration:

There was so much food in The Song of the Jade Lily that I think it almost classifies as a foodie book and it was a variety of mostly Jewish, German and Austrian and Chinese dishes. I will attempt to cover just some of the mentions here as I took a few pages of notes. Mentions included the scents of frying fish, cardamom, cinnamon and star anise, noodles, congee, champagne, whiskey, afternoon tea, coffee, hot chocolate piles high with cream, fried garlic and smoked paprika, a soup of black bean paste with crushed garlic, ginger, and chives, a garden with green beans, bay, thyme, Meyer lemon and lime trees, flowering garlic and chives, peas, tomato and purple and green basil, a pesto made from coriander, glugs of olive oil, almonds, garlic and lemons, bok choy, pumpkin and water chestnut risotto, sauteed lamb kidneys with orchid stems and shiitake mushrooms, coffee and plum jam liwanzen (fried yeast pancakes), chocolate cake, Semmelknodel (German bread) dumplings with roast chicken,homemade lemonade and ginger beer, Austrian rye bread and baked treats including a brotgewurz (a German bread spice mixture that included ground caraway, fennel, anise and coriander seed, plus Chinese allspice, celery seed and cardamom), mushroom dumplings, carrot cake, Black forest cake, apricot and apple strudels, scones with raspberry jam and double cream, persimmons, crepes with egg,leek, herbs and deep-fried pastry strips for crunch, Griessnockerlsuppe (chicken and semolina dumpling soup), macarons, basi pingguo (apple, deep-fried and coated in caramel and sesame seeds), tofu and eggplant salad, cones of toasted melon, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, pickled mango, cream cakes with raspberry jam on top, baba ghanoush and hummus, baled fish, couscous and beef brisket, hot pot, pink dragon fruit, lychee and guava, pea torte, spicy prawns with lily bulbs and almond, jasmine tea-soaked chicken, cinnamon buns, orange and poppyseed cake, mapo doufu, and lychee and ginger martinis.


For my book-inspired dish, I decided to make Tea-Soaked Eggs because I have been wanting to make them for a while now and I liked that they were Romy's favorites, and the description when Alexandra and Zhang go to breakfast:

"'What is that?' asked Alexandra as they passed a narrow alleyway crowded with people lining up behind bamboo steamers stacked like circular towers. 
'That'--he pointed to a tiny hole-in-the-wall--'is breakfast.' 
Alexandra eyed the dozens of boiled eggs floating in a dark broth and recognized one of Romy's favorite dishes. At home, Romy would boil a dozen eggs, then crack them gently on the counter before dropping them into a crockpot filled with black tea. She'd add orange rind, cinnamon, star anise, five spice, cardamom, and soy sauce, and leave the eggs to soak overnight. Alexandra had loved the aromas of all the spices floating through the house, especially in winter. The next morning, Romy would scoop the eggs out with a slotted spoon and peel them to reveal a beautiful marbled pattern, each one in a slightly different hue."


Recipe:

I basically followed the recipe above from the book, along with a glance at this Food52 article for slow cooker timing. I decided to use some of my Lapsang Souchong tea to see what the smoky flavor did with the eggs. Since I didn't have orange rind on hand, I put a couple of pieces of lemon peel into the mix.


Notes/Results: I was expecting a more dramatic mosaic pattern on my eggs. Although I do find the shells quite vibrant and gorgeous, the eggs were lighter in color than I thought they would be. Also, although I took my eggs out of the fridge about 20 minutes before boiling and they were fairly fresh, most of the bottoms were flat. Oh well, the taste was better than they looked. I liked how the smoky flavor of the Lapsang Souchong I used combined with the aromatic spices and soy sauce. They are a little bit rubbery in texture, but the flavor made up for that. I would 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.


Note: A review copy of "The Song of the Jade Lily" 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, 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.

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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.

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