Saturday, August 18, 2018

Weekend Cooking: Guest-Hosting with a Little Foodie MishMash

While our fearless Weekend Cooking hostess with the mostess is out having adventures, making gorgeous lace, and eating her way through Belgium, she has asked me to hold down the fort and host this fun weekly event this weekend and the next. I hope that if you have a food-related post of any sort, you'll join us. (See the instructions at the bottom of the post.)


I fully intended to have a great food-related post ready to go but after I said I would host, I accepted a job back in the working world and I started Monday. My week has been insane from trying to adjust to not working for myself from home each day, getting into a routine with a not-so-great commute, and being both physically tired and mentally drained from all of the changes. So please bear with me this weekend while I share a few foodie things I have been interested in lately. Next week I will try to get the post up a few hours earlier.

My new job is Corporate Trainer for a food distribution company that just celebrated its 105th year in business. Locally owned, it services restaurants throughout the state. I love the culture and it even operates a cash and carry style outlet for smaller restaurants and the general public, full of food service products and ingredients (employees get a small discount at on top of the lower prices). I had fun going through it incognito the other day before I started and there are some cool ingredients to play with, including some herb crystals like these. Although not every item is applicable to the home cook without a lot of mouths to feed, there are lots of things that are. Also, when I got to my desk Monday, there were balloons, a welcome sign and some local cookbooks there to greet me--a sure way to my heart. They are three books I don't own and so I'm enjoying looking through them.


Speaking of cookbooks, I have so many that I strive to check new ones out of the library, rather than buying them--unless it is one that I really *need* to have. Vegetarian, vegan, and Middle Eastern  cookbooks are all passions of mine and so I grabbed The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook by Salma Hage off the cookbook shelves the other day and brought it home to try. Unfortunately, I did not get around to making any of the recipes yet, but I tagged several including a Lebanese 7-Spice Seasoning and a Za'atar spice mix recipe, Za'atar Spiced Nuts, Almond Hummus, Avocado Tahini Dip, Halloumi with Sumac and Mint, Minted Cucumber Salad, Mushroom Soup with Toasted Sumac Pine Nuts, Green Lentil Tabbouleh, Chickpea and Cauliflower Patties, Honeydew-Orange Flower Sorbet, and Sesame Seed Bars. I jotted down a few to make soon. The book's photos are gorgeous (see some examples below) and the recipes seem easy enough. This one may just go into my "buy, eventually" list.

Photos from The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook

Finally, here are two links to explore:

I adore trying different spices from all over the world in my cooking. This Epicurious.com article talks about some great fair-trade, direct to consumer spice companies that support spice growers and farmers and cut out the multiple layers and hand changing of spices before they get to the supermarket. The photo from the article has me tempted to buy some of these spices due to their packaging alone. ;-)

Photo by Chelsea Kyle for Epicurious.com

And I'd use those Fair-Trade spices in a Spaghetti Squash Shakshuka from Cooking Light. I love a good shakshuka, a North African dish of sautéed bell pepper, onions and tomatoes with herbs and spices and runny-yolked eggs nestled in the veggies. (I make a version of Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe regularly.) I am going to try this recipe, adding Harissa paste to the cumin and chilies listed. I think cooking it in a spaghetti squash boat would be a good twist and make it a fabulous healthy breakfast or dinner.

Photo by Sara Tane at cooking Light

Link Up:

I am linking two food-related posts this week myself and look forward to seeing your Weekend Cooking links!

Note: I use a different link-up than Beth Fish Reads and it is a picture link. I think it is fairly easy to use, but if you have any trouble or questions, please let me know.
Please leave a comment after linking. Mahalo!


Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.
 


 

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.  

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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.

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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.
 

 

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Between the Lies" by Cynthia A. Graham, Served with Fried Okra with Spicy Sriracha-Caper Sauce

It's Monday and for the first time in nine years I headed off to work at a 'regular' job. I've been freelancing as an HR and training consultant and working from home, clients' offices, and my satellite office in my neighborhood coffee shop, but I decided I wanted to work with a team again and work for a regular paycheck. I just took a position in training and development for a local company and I am excited about it, but I will miss the loss of freedom in scheduling and I know it will take some adjusting. Things, like book reviews and blog posts may not happen on time or as regularly, so please bear with me as I adjust. 

Speaking of book reviews, I am excited to be on the TLC Book Tour for Between the Lies by Cynthia A. Graham, the third book in the Hick Blackburn series, a historical mystery series set in Arkansas in 1954. Accompanying my review is some tasty Fried Okra with Spicy Sriracha-Caper Sauce, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb:

When the corrupt sheriff of Broken Creek, Arkansas detains a young black boy on charges of accidental homicide, his sister asks Hick Blackburn, Sheriff of Cherokee Crossing, to investigate. Hick is reluctant at first. Not only is Broken Creek out of his jurisdiction, but Hick and Sheriff Brewster have a history, and Hick knows Brewster won’t look kindly on his interference. But Hick quickly realizes the boy couldn’t have committed the crime. With the aid of a New York attorney trying to make a name for herself and a shy new deputy who knows the boy’s family, Hick uncovers a conspiracy that goes to the heart of local corruption, nepotism, and racism. But while Hick is working to free an innocent child in Broken Creek, his beloved Maggie, pregnant with their third child, faces challenges of her own back home. This time, will Hick’s dedication to justice extract too high a price?

Paperback: 220 pages
Publisher: Blank Slate Press (March 27, 2018)

My Review:

I am always amazed at the amount of story that Cynthia Graham fits into these short (220-ish pages) books, that satisfies but leaves me wanting more. Hick Blackburn is such a great character, a good, but not perfect man--sheriff, husband, father, friend, and WWII veteran, still troubled by the damages of war. Hick tries his best to do the right thing--even when it means sticking his nose into the policing going on in the next rural town when a corrupt sheriff (who Hick has dealt with before) is railroading a young black boy into a guilty plea for a murder he did not commit. I like Hick so much that I do want to knock the cigarettes he is constantly smoking out of his hands. ;-) The mystery in this third installment is as good as the first two books--there are twists and turns in the story and some tough issues--like racism, sexism, greed, and corruption that hit awfully close to today's headlines and had me shaking my head at how far we have not come. I did not love the ending and I won't say why for fear of spoilers--although there was enough foreshadowing that I had an idea what was coming and I so wanted to be wrong. I am interested to see what transpires in the next book and how it impacts the story and especially Hick's character. If you love good mysteries with well-drawn characters, southern-set books, and historical fiction and mysteries, do give this series a try and start with the first book, Beneath Still Waters (my review is here), you won't be disappointed.

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Author Notes: Cynthia A. Graham was born in St. Louis, Missouri. As a child she spent every weekend and vacation in the cotton belt of Missouri where she grew to love the mystery and beauty of the stark, Delta Plain. Cynthia graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Missouri – St. Louis with a B.A. in English. She has won several awards for her short stories and has been published in a number of anthologies. Between the Lies follows the first two books in her historical mystery series featuring Sheriff Hick Blackburn, Beneath Still Water and Behind Every Door, which both won IPPY and MIPA awards.

Connect with Cynthia via her website or on Twitter

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Food Inspiration:

These are short books that revolve around the solving of a crime so there isn't what I would call a lot of food in them. Still, I was able to find some food and beverage mentions including a chicken leg, oatmeal, pork and beans, barbecued pork, diner coffee, moonshine, fried eggs and bacon, watermelon, potatoes, iced tea, fried chicken, fried okra, a tomato juice-based hangover cure, pork chops, cheese sandwiches, scrambled eggs and Cornflakes.


Since I don't eat meat or poultry, most of the food mentioned isn't something I wanted to make but the fried okra, served at a Sunday family dinner at Hick's was something I could get behind. I have made fried okra before (check out this vegan version here) but I didn't have any wheat flour and cornmeal in my pantry. I was going to buy some when I saw McCormick's Cajun Seafood Fry Mix that I have used before and it was cheaper and faster than restocking my pantry with items I don't use a lot. I added some Old Bay Seasoning and cayenne to the mix and dredged the okra pieces in beaten egg before frying them in canola oil until light brown and crispy. I did make the dipping sauce myself. It's not southern or traditional, but it is delicious.


Spicy Sriracha-Caper Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 cup)

1/2 cup mayonaise, yogurt or a combination of the two
1 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha, or to taste
1 Tbsp capers, drained + 2 tsp caper brine
1 tsp garlic powder (I use roasted garlic powder)
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning 
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Use as a dip for okra.


Notes/Results: I confess that I find okra's sliminess to be a bit off-putting but I do like it fried or pickled as both preparations temper the sliminess. This okra had a great blend of flavor and just enough heat with the cayenne and Old Bay I added to the fry mix. The dipping sauce adds both flavor and an extra kick that makes popping these little fried morsels a pleasure. I will happily make both the sauce and the okra 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 "Between the Lies" 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.
 

 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Giada's Italian Vichyssoise for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

There's only so many days of summer left so time to get out those last cold soups of summer like this Italian Vichyssoise by Giada De Laurentiis from Food Network. 


I like the addition of the arugula to the vichyssoise and the mascarpone, but since I didn't have mascarpone readily available, I decided to use Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream, that is also thick and creamy and since I subbed in veggie stock too, it makes this creamy soup vegan. I also used watercress in place of the arugula--it looked fresher. I didn't make the croutons in Giada's recipe as I am currently avoiding bread, but did keep the grape tomatoes to garnish. Finally, I only pureed about 2/3 of the soup to leave a little texture. My changes to the recipe are in red below.
  

Italian Vichyssoise
Slightly Adpated from Giada De Laurentiis via FoodNetwork.com
(Serves 4)

3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (I used 2 Tbsp)
2 large or 4 small shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 tsp salt (or to taste--I used less)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs (about 2 medium) russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
1 cup arugula (I used watercress)
1/2 cup mascarpone, at room temperature (I used Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream)

Croutons:
2 (1/2-inch thick) slices sourdough or multi-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
8 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered

For the Soup: In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, chicken broth, and arugula. Bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes. In batches, ladle the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. (Note: I blended about 2/3 of the soup rather than all of it.) Return the soup to the saucepan and whisk in the cheese, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Let the soup cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour until ready to serve. Before serving, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, to taste.
  
For the Croutons: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, toss together the bread, oil, and salt until coated. Spread in a single layer on a small baking sheet. Bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes.

To serve: Ladle the soup into small bowls. Garnish with croutons and cherry tomatoes.
 

Notes/Results: A simple potato soup that works hot or cold and is elevated by the peppery flavor of the watercress and the richness of the mascarpone--or in this case, tofu-based sour cream. I like the changes I made to the recipe but I am sure Giada's version is great too. I ate a small bowl of it warm and then a second bowl after it chilled and liked it both ways. I would make it again.
  

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is our August Monthly Ingredient/Dish Challenge--Chilly Delights--cold and tasty recipes recipes from our current or previous IHCC chefs.  

 
Lets take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.



Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared her lunch of Turkey Guacamole Salad and said, "When Doug travels I usually eat lunch in my office and read. This isn't the best photo and I wish I'd taken a snap prior to mixing it all up so you could see the yummy bits.  We have butter lettuce, fresh tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, hard boiled egg, blue cheese crumbles, turkey and guacamole.  It's a hearty enough lunch and I can sit and read on my Kindle instead of fielding questions about why I'm eating alone in the break room."

 
Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared this tasty Spiralized Vegetable Salad with Zucchini and Beets and said, "Looking for a creative way to serve your vegetables?  Spiralize them and make them into a salad. I spiralized zucchini and beets for this colorful salad and placed them over fresh spinach leaves. The flavors mingled beautifully, and it was light and easy to eat."

 
Mahalo, Tina and Judee--for joining in this week!
 
About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
 

If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:


  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up her in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (optional).




Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, August 10, 2018

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Daisy Children" by Sofia Grant, Served with a Recipe for (Addicting) Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

It's Friday and if that isn't reason enough to be happy, I have a book review and a tasty appetizer/snack to share with you. I'm today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Daisy Children by Sofia Grant. Accompanying my review is a recipe for some tasty Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs that were inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb: 

Inspired by true events, in Sofia Grant’s powerfully moving new novel a young woman peels back the layers of her family’s history, discovering a tragedy in the past that explains so much of the present. This unforgettable story is one of hope, healing, and the discovery of truth.

Sometimes the untold stories of the past are the ones we need to hear…

When Katie Garrett gets the unexpected news that she’s received an inheritance from the grandmother she hardly knew, it couldn’t have come at a better time. She flees Boston—and her increasingly estranged husband—and travels to rural Texas.

There, she’s greeted by her distant cousin Scarlett. Friendly, flamboyant, eternally optimistic, Scarlett couldn’t be more different from sensible Katie. And as they begin the task of sorting through their grandmother’s possessions, they discover letters and photographs that uncover the hidden truths about their shared history, and the long-forgotten tragedy of the New London school explosion of 1937 that binds them.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (August 7, 2018)


My Review:

I had not heard of the the New London School explosion, the incident that sparked Sofia Grant to write this book and real life incident that occurred in 1937 when a gas leak caused an explosion in a school in New London, Texas where more than 295 children and teachers died. The explosion serves as a backdrop to The Daisy Children, told from primarily two points of view--Margaret Pierson, born after the explosion and one of the "Daisy Children" (a group of children conceived after their parents lost a child--or lost children--in the school explosion and assuaged their grief by having more children) and Katie Garrett, Margaret's granddaughter. Margaret's chapters start in 1948 and continue throughout her life and Katie's chapters are set in present day, after she learns Margaret has left her something in her will and ventures from Boston to Texas to find out about her inheritance. Katie is facing challenges in her personal life--trying to have a child, losing her job, and growing apart from her husband, Liam. Surprised at receiving something from a grandmother she met only once, Katie plans to find out what Margaret left her and then spend some time with her mother, Caroline. Instead, big bumps in her travel plans have her looking up a cousin she has never met on Facebook and Scarlett (sort of) comes to her rescue. Katie and Scarlett start building a family relationship while sorting the contents of Margaret's house and finding some long-buried family secrets. 

This is my first book by Sofia Grant, although her first novel The Dress in the Window is on my TBR list. I enjoyed how she wove a lessor known/remembered and tragic part of American history into a story about family--mother and daughters, secrets, drama, estrangement and relationships. Margaret has a contentious relationship with her mother, Caroline and then an even worse one with her daughter Georgina, (Katie's mom) and Georgina and Katie's relationship is often tense. Katie and Scarlett are likable, thankfully because Margaret, Caroline, and Georgina are mostly...not...although as the stories unfold, I gained some understanding and sympathy towards them. Imagine being Margaret and feeling like you will never be loved as much as the sister who was killed and that you replaced. In addition to the family drama there is some romance--which seemed a bit quick to me given the circumstances--but did have its charms. Although I preferred Katie and Scarlett as characters, Margaret's story and the story of the explosion and the aftermath were interesting and absorbing and kept me turning the pages--as well as had me searching online for more about the history of the tragic event. To lose so many people, especially children, in what is the deadliest school disaster in American history is unimaginable--but even though it is a key part of the book, it doesn't bring down the ultimately hopeful tone of The Daisy Children. I found the book enjoyable and engaging and if you like historical fiction, women's fiction, and books about family drama and secrets, you will likely enjoy it too.

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Author Notes: Sofia Grant has the heart of a homemaker, the curiosity of a cat, and the keen eye of a scout. She works from an urban aerie in Oakland, California.
 
Find out more about Sofia at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.





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Food Inspiration: 

There was a fair amount of food to be found in The Daisy Children including Thai food (mee krob--crisp noodles), sizzling rice soup, shortbread, bourbon, Gorgonzola mini quiches, shrimp, deviled eggs, onions rings, whiskey and mulled wine, potato salad, casserole, sheet cake, lemonade, sandwiches and cookies, chiffon cake, Texas Punch in a bottle, Starbucks, salad, a chicken sandwich, stew, orange blossom tea, a junk food assortment of Men's Health Nuts, Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Cheese and Peanut Butter Crackers, Lays Chips, and rainbow sherbet, Big Red Soda, iced tea, American cheese, apples, Cliff Bars and fried chicken, buttermilk cake, beans and cornbread, omelets, breakfast quesadillas of sausage and bacon and egg, chestnut dressing, roast, taffy apples, ribs and hamburgers, vodka, brisket, fish sticks and frozen mixed vegetables, Chicken Divan with Mornay sauce, ginger ale, Burmese food, beer, olives and Triscuits, gruel, a cocktail called a "Bend Over Shirley" (raspberry vodka, Sprite and Grenadine), bacon, lobster, a martini, pimento cheese sandwiches with the crusts not cut off, iced petits fours, broccoli and cheese quiches, a dish called Thrifty Tetrazzini, pimentos, chips, pizza, Sloppy Joes, salad and brownies, cinnamon rolls and fruit, and all you can eat crawdads.


For my book-inspired dish I thought about trying to create the Bend Over Shirley cocktail for fun, but instead I started thinking about the deviled eggs, mentioned as being popular at a party and pimento cheese (mentioned in sandwiches at another party). I didn't want sandwiches and started thinking about putting pimento cheese in deviled eggs. Apparently I am not the first as I Googled it and several recipes came up. I blended one from Good Housekeeping magazine with a pimento cheese recipe from Quick Fix Southern that is simple and I like to use it when I want pimento cheese for things like this and this and added a few of my own touches. I just made six eggs worth although I put the recipe for 12 eggs below.


Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs
Inspired by Good Housekeeping 
(Yields 12)

12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half, length-wise, yolks removed
2 heaping tablespoons pimentos, drained well and coarsely chopped
1 green onion, white & green parts finely chopped (reserve some to garnish)
1/2 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup mayonnaise or drained yogurt
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 tsp smoked paprika or Old Bay Seasoning + more to garnish
sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, mash egg yolks and add pimentos, green onion, cheese,  mayonnaise, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and paprika and gently mix together. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. 

Spoon into egg whites and garnish with a little green onion and a sprinkling of smoked paprika or Old Bay seasoning. Serve and enjoy.


Notes/Results: OK, pimento cheese is one of those guilty pleasure things that you think you should not like (cheese & mayo with pimento?!) but in practice is delicious and only gets better when it fills a deviled egg. I made a half batch of these which was probably a good thing because all I wanted to do was eat them. I think they would be easily addicting. I used a smoked sharp cheddar and that made them even better with the smoky edge. I am all for a classic deviled egg, but experimenting is fun--so if you like to shake up your deviled egg game too, definitely try these. I will 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.


Note: A review copy of "The Last Thing I Told You" 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.
 

  Happy Aloha Friday!