Things Remembered by Georgia Bockoven is a novel about family, love and healing--letting go of the past and finding a future. Although the story centers mostly around Anna and Karla, we get glimpses into the lives of the sisters--Heather happily married to a wonderful man and expecting her third child--a girl, and Grace, a spoiled and self-indulgent actress who is supported financially and enabled in her selfishness by both Karla and Anna. Karla has focused most of her energy and her life on her coffee shop, especially after her divorce, and has closed herself off emotionally from much of the world. Beginning to open herself up to a relationship with Anna introduces her to new friends and a potential love interest. The relationship between the sisters and their grandmother--very different for each sister, is explored as well.
I found this book to be a fast and engaging read and I could easily relate to the family dynamics of the sisters and the concerns of having an aging parent or grandparent. It is a sweet story and a perfect fall/winter read as it is set over late October and flows into Christmas and beyond. Things Remembered is good pick for anyone who enjoys books about family and relationships. This is the first book of Bockoven's I have read (although I just realized her The Year Everything Changed is sitting in my massive post-Border's closing sale "to read" pile), and I planning on reading more from this author.
Author note: Georgia Bockoven is an award-winning author who began writing fiction after a successful career as a freelance journalist and photographer. Her books have sold more than four million copies worldwide. The mother of two, she resides in Northern California with her husband, John.
There was actually plenty of food inspiration in this book. Thanksgiving dinner, home-baked pies and pie crust cookies (I have fond childhood memories of these cinnamony pie crust scrap treats), persimmon cookies, applesauce cake, lasagna, hamburgers... There are even about 17 family-style recipes included in the back of the book, submitted by readers of the original hardback edition.
In the end, for my book inspired dish, I took inspiration from the the part of herself Karla kept hidden--the mothering, nurturing part. At her core, Karla cares deeply about her family and friends and demonstrates it through her actions. Making and giving food is a great way of showing you care and so I took the opportunity to bake up a little something for a friend.
My friend Julie is on a restrictive diet no gluten, dairy, and a host of other ingredients and she has been hungering for some baked goods. I had some nicely brown and over-ripe sweet apple bananas and I whipped them into a vegan Gluten Free Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins with Almonds. Because I let my GF baking ingredients run out, I bought some Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix and adapted the Banana Bread recipe on their website. (My changes are in red below) The result was some pretty moist and tasty little muffins--studded with mini vegan chocolate chips.
Gluten Free Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins with Almonds
Adapted from Banana Bread recipe at Pamela's Products
(Makes about 10 muffins)
4 tablespoons butter, melted (I used Earth Balance butter substitute)
1/2 cup sugar or honey (I used 1/3 cup agave)
2 eggs, beaten (I used egg replacer)
1 cup banana, mashed
1-3/4 cups Pamela's Baking & Pancake Mix
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
(I added 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)
1/2 cup nuts (optional) (I used 1/2 cup sliced almonds)
(I added 1/2 cup vegan mini chocolate chips)
Beat together butter, sugar or honey, eggs and banana. Add remaining ingredients and mix together. Scoop into lined cupcake pans (about 2/3 full).
Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Notes/Results: I am still always a little leery of baking with GF and vegan ingredients (gluten-free mixes, egg replacer, Earth Balance) and having it turn out with the flavor and texture I am looking for but these muffins were actually really good. They turned out moist and not too dense and of course you can't go wrong with lots of mini chocolate chips. I had a couple and gave the remainder to Jules who proclaimed them really good--so I will call them a success. I would make them again.
Note: A review copy of Things Remembered was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.