Friday, July 23, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Ocean in Winter" by Elizabeth de Veer, Served with Two Favorite Dal Recipes

Happy Aloha Friday. Today, I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Ocean in Winter by Elizabeth de Veer. Accompanying my review are two recipes for Indian dals, inspired by my reading. 


Publisher's Blurb:

The lives of the three Emery sisters were changed forever when Alex, eleven at the time, found their mother drowned in the bathtub of their home. After their mother’s suicide, the girls’ father shut down emotionally, leaving Alex responsible for caring for Colleen, then eight, and little Riley, just four. Now the girls are grown and navigating different directions. Alex, a nurse, has been traveling in India and grieving her struggle to have a child; Colleen is the devoted mother of preteens in denial that her marriage is ending; and Riley has been leading what her sisters imagine to be the dream life of a successful model in New York City. Decades may have passed, but the unresolved trauma of their mother’s death still looms over them creating distance between the sisters.

Then on a March night, a storm rages near the coast of northeastern Massachusetts. Alex sits alone in an old farmhouse she inherited from a stranger. The lights are out because of the storm; then, an unexpected knock at the door. When Alex opens it, her beautiful younger sister stands before her. Riley has long been estranged from their family, prompting Colleen to hire the private investigator from whom they’d been awaiting news. Comforted by her unexpected presence, Alex holds back her nagging questions: How had Riley found her? Wouldn’t the dirt roads have been impassable in the storm? Why did Riley insist on disappearing back into the night?

After her mysterious visitation, Alex and Colleen are determined to reconcile with Riley and to face their painful past, but the closer they come to finding their missing sister, the more they fear they’ll only be left with Riley’s secrets. An unforgettable story about grief, love, and what it means to be haunted, The Ocean in Winter marks the debut of a remarkable new voice in fiction.

Publisher : Blackstone Publishing; Unabridged Edition (July 6, 2021) 
Hardcover : 336 pages

My Review:

The Ocean in Winter is a beautiful book, both sad and beautiful. It's a story of three sisters whose lives have never been the same since their mother committed suicide when they were young. So there are definitely some triggers here; suicide, death, grief, abuse, addiction and drug use and it's not at all a light read. But, if you can brave through the difficult parts, there is a story about sisters, family, love and connection. I found myself caught up in the sisters; caretaker Alex, a nurse who wants to have a life of her own and journey to India, Colleen, a mother and perfectionist, whose marriage is crumbling despite her attempts to put it back together, and Riley, the youngest, a well-known model whose childhood trauma combined with a life of excess have her struggling with a drug addiction she can't break away from, and hiding herself and her secrets from her sisters. Although in my own sister line-up, I am the youngest and I did not suffer the trauma they did, I found I could identify with things about each character and was hopeful for them all finding some peace and happiness. 

There are some mystical and supernatural elements and for the most part they work and are not overdone, but add to the story. de Veer's poetic words brought the landscape of Massachusetts  to life from the storm raging to the ocean waves to the creaking noises of an old house. I marked down several quotes that spoke to me, like this one:

"Maybe all that has been happening in this house hasn't been from squirrels or bad wiring, nor spirits of former residents. Maybe these are my memories, hung around me like laundry on a clothesline. Do memories choose us or do we choose our memories? I don't know, but maybe a memory can put itself before you and insist that you reckon with it."

Overall, I found The Ocean in Winter to be a book that drew me in and kept me reading, and caring about the characters. Mixed in with the sadness, there is hope and moments of joy. It's the author's first book, and I look forward to seeing what she writes next. 

 -----

Author Notes: Elizabeth de Veer has a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and has been admitted to writing residencies at the Jentel Artist Residency, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is a member of several writing groups, including Grub Street Writers’ Collective of Boston, the Newburyport Writers’ Group, Sisters in Crime New England, and the New Hampshire Writers’ Project. She lives in a small town in Northeast Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and labradoodle.

Connect with Elizabeth via her website, Facebook or Instagram.

-----

There was a good amount of food in The Ocean in Winter, mentions included mustard, wine, crackers, coffee, pizza, chicken, salad, fresh vegetables and hummus, granola bars, apples, yogurt, rice and curry, cake, idli (soft, warm rice cakes) and a spiced lentil soup to dip them in., bacon and eggs, raw almonds and green juice, milk, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on fluffy white bread, chocolate milk, bagels, a hamburger with fries on the side, a small Milky Way candy bar, Goldfish crackers, pot roast, falafel, cereal, blueberries, mashed potatoes and stuffing, ginger-cinnamon martinis, cheese, crackers and nuts, a box of expensive chocolate, beef Stroganoff, hot caramel macchiato, hot chocolate, doughnuts, a Panera breakfast sandwich, pancakes, Cheetos, Coca-Coal, frozen chocolate cake, tater tots, taquitos, pizza rolls, Pop-Tarts, frozen burritos, pre-sweetened oatmeal in packets and presugared yogurt in cups, lobster rolls, French fries, and chowder, Indian takeout of steaming curries, rice, naan, samosas, dosas, and "an extra greasy order of pakoras", oysters, chicken Caesar salad, a kale and faro salad, ice cream, blueberry jam, griddle cakes, bacon and hash browns, slices of pie--berry and apple, birthday cake, tangerines, saltines paired with crunchy peanut butter and the occasional garnish of M&M's and saltines with spray cheese, Pringles and onion dip, chocolate chip Cookes, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fancy lemonade in a pretty bottle, a Starbucks muffin, and mac and cheese--homemade baked with a crunchy topping and packaged Kraft.  

With all of that food, it should have been easy to come up with a dish inspired b y my reading and I was prepared to make a curry and rice or maybe a dal but the week totally got away from me and I found myself too exhausted to even go into the kitchen. So, I am taking the lazy way out--a reoccurring theme lately, and sharing a couple of my favorite dal recipes. Alex wants to return to India, the trip she was pulled away from, and she and Colleen get Indian take-out one night--something I should have considered doing. ;-)

I have a lot of Indian recipes on the blog, loving the flavors and especially the comfort of dal--those soupy lentils and pulses, but here are two dals that I might pair with this book as the sisters are all in need of warming, comfort foods.

Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils) from 100 Weeknight Curries by Madhur Jaffrey, simple nourishing and delicious. 


A very simple Mung Bean Dal slightly adapted from Surya Spa via Goop 


Both of these are easy to make, easy to adapt to your tastes and delicious. 

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event  being hosted by Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. Here's a link to this week's post

Note: A review copy of The Ocean in Winter 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, July 18, 2021

A Savory Smoked Salmon Bisque for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I walked by some lobster bisque in the grocery store deli soups the other day and thought about making some but instead decided to make a Smoked Salmon Bisque instead to use some peppered smoked salmon and cream that were hanging about my fridge. 


 What's the difference betwen bisque and chowder? If you read up on them, the simplest answer seems to be that both are creamy and rich but a bisque tends to be pureed until smooth, while a chowder is usually left chunkier. I went a bit in the middle, pureeing my soup base, but flaking in pieces of peppered smoked salmon too. Although bisques are most often served hot or warm, it's summer and I think this one would also be lovely chilled.


Smoked Salmon Bisque
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 4 Servings)

2 Tbsp butter
1 medium leek, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp celery seed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup white wine 
3 cups broth--I used non-chicken
8-10 oz hot smoked salmon, flaked, separated
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper to taste
chopped chives and black pepper or smoked paprika for garnish

In a medium heavy-bottom pot, heat butter over medium heat and add leeks, onion, and carrot and cook 4-5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook another minute, then add flour and spices and cook another minute or two. Add white wine and stir until flour is completely blended.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes. Add about 1/2 of the smoked salmon and the heavy cream and simmer another 10 minutes, being careful not to boil. Using an immersion blender or a high speed blender (blend in batches), puree soup until mostly smooth. Return purred soup to pot and stir in most of the rest of the reserved salmon--reserving about 2 Tbsp for topping. Add lemon juice and season to taste with salt and black pepper. 

Serve warm with reserved flaked smoked salmon, chopped chives and a sprinkle of smoked paprika or black pepper or chill at least 2 hours in fridge and serve cold. 

Notes/Results: Rich, creamy, smoky and good, this is a tasty soup. I like the peppery salmon on here--although any hot smoked, flaky salmon will do. I also like the extra pop of flavor from the smoked paprika, Old Bay Seasoning and the lemon juice--which brightens up the richness and smoky flavors. I would happily make it again. 


Let's see who is in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week. 


Debra of Eliot's Eats shared a classic Macaroni Salad, saying "We fried up a bazillion fish fillets (hybrid bass) that The Hubs had caught on a early June fishing trip. We just coated them with cornmeal, Cajun spice, a little sugar, and salt and pepper. We had so much fish we ate on them for at least three meals.  The first night was simply the fillets. Then came the Po-Boys, and finally just simply cold on a grazing board. ... To go along with the obligatory hot dogs and brats, I created this macaroni salad. I based the dressing on Rodney Scott’s potato salad. I added whatever veggies I had in the fridge."



Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Quinoa Salad and says, "If you are looking for a great quinoa salad that is easy, healthy, and filling- this is it. Quinoa, chickpeas, and summer produce such as red and yellow cherry tomatoes, scallions, colorful mini sweet peppers, shredded carrots, sliced black olives, parsley, and fresh basil, makes an easy, light, yet filling meal for dinner."



Radha of The Magical Ingredients for a Wholesome Life from the Heart of My Home shared Four Ways to Use Up Chipotle Corn Chowder. She says, "Chipotle corn chowder is one of our favorite soups whether slow-cooked or on stove-top. When made quite often, many times, there would be leftovers and sometimes, I would love to make a little extra as the leftover soup comes in handy for the next meal as such, or which helps in quick fixing a delicious meal. This post shows four ways to use it, though it can be used in many other ways."


(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 to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
  • Although we are pretty wide on what defines a soup, sandwich or salad, entries that are clearly not in the same family (ie: desserts, meats, random main or side dishes that aren't salads, etc.) are meant for another round up and will be deleted. 
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, July 16, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Denied" by Mary Keliikoa, Served with a Recipe for Peanut-Sesame Noodles

Happy Aloha Friday! I love a good mystery and so I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Denied: A Kelly Pruett Mystery by Mary Keliikoa. It's the second in a new-ish series so I'll be talking about both books. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Penut-Sesame Noodles, inspired by my reading.


Publisher's Blurb:

A high-risk pregnancy. A dangerous secret. When her case turns deadly, can this investigator avoid racking up a fatal debt?

PI Kelly Pruett’s search to locate a former classmate’s missing father ends in what appears to be a tragic accident. But putting the pieces together that led to that fateful night will require Kelly to play a high risk game of chance with a killer willing to gamble everything to win.

Publisher: Camel Press (May 11, 2021)
Paperback: 226 pages

My Review: I always love a good mystery series and there is a lot to love about this one. As the book tour is for the second book in the series and I *can't* happily read series books out of order, I requested an arc of the first book, Derailed. I like that the books are set in my old stomping ground of Portland, Oregon, in fact Derailed had a Portland spin on a murder when a young woman was killed by a Max Light Rail Train. It sets up Kelly's situation, she is a Private Investigator who took over her father's business when he suffered a stroke and died. She has an 8-year-old daughter. Mitz, who is deaf and a basset hound named Floyd. She also has an ex-husband who cheated on her with her (former) best friend and an ex-mother-in-law who helps with Mitz and gets in Kelly's business a lot. There is a bit of a cozy mystery vibe here in that Kelly's father kept her on the light side of the business--process serving, skip tracing, stakeouts for photos of cheating spouses, and not on any of the grittier cases so she is often out of her element and takes some not-so-wise chances in both books. 

In Denied, an old school friend has been estranged from her father and asks Kelly to find him as she is pregnant and high risk. Kelly thinks he may have gotten involved over his head with a gambling racket and when it turns out he had an unfortunate car "accident," she is convinced there's more to the case. The books are quick reads, tension builds nicely, and there were some twists--some I saw coming, others were more of a surprise. I did have to yell at Kelly a few times in my head for her life choices and decisions, but overall, she is a character that I enjoyed. There's a new love interest for her plus some complications from her ex-husband to explore too. If you like mystery and PI series, a strong female main character, and Portland/Oregon settings, you should enjoy the Kelly Pruett Mysteries. I know I am looking forward to the next book. 

Book 1


-----

Author Notes: Mary Keliikoa is the author of the Lefty and Agatha award nominated PI Kelly Pruett mystery series and the upcoming Misty Pines mystery series featuring Sheriff Jax Turner slated for release in September 2022. Her short stories have appeared in Woman’s World and in the anthology Peace, Love and Crime: Crime Fiction Inspired by Music of the ‘60s. A Pacific NW native, she spent a part of her life working around lawyers. Combining her love of legal and books, she creates a twisting mystery where justice prevails. When not in Washington, you can find Mary on the beach in Hawaii where she and her husband recharge. But even under the palm trees and blazing sun, she’s plotting her next murder—novel that is.

Find out more about Mary on her websiteInstagramTwitter, and Facebook.

-----

Food Inspiration:

Other than peanut butter, which is mentioned often, there is not a lot of food in Denied, but there were ribs and salad from the deli, black coffee, toast, cookies, wine, potato chips on a peanut butter sandwich, and spaghetti.

In both books, Kelly is constantly turning to peanut butter--often by the spoonful from the jar--as her comfort food and hunger satisfier. So for my bookish dish, I thought that with just a few more minutes, she could be enjoying her peanut butter with noodles for a more satisfying meal. 


I used Nigella's Sesame Peanut Noodle Sauce recipe for these. Adaptable and nothing fancy--add veggies if you like, but I thought Kelly would be mostly into a big bowl of noodles.


Sesame Peanut Noodle Sauce
Slightly Adapted from Nigella Lawson via FoodNetwork.com

1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp garlic infused oil
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter 
2 Tbsp lime juice

9 oz cooked noodles of choice (I used local fresh ramen)
cilantro, green onion or chives and sesame seeds to garnish

Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. Place cooked noodles in a large bowl and toss with dressing until completely covered. Let chill if desired and enjoy!

Notes/Results: Rich and almost creamy/buttery, when I make peanut butter noodles, I always wonder why I don't make them more often?! They are so easy and so good--especially with the fresh ramen noodles. I kept my noodles very basic but you can easily pump these up with all manner of veggies and add protein too. I just figure Kelly will do the least amount possible to get the peanut butter into her mouth. ;-) You can also up the spice level, although I like the balance of the milder heat in the sweet chili sauce. I will happily make these again. 

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event  being hosted by Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. Here's a link to last week's post. 


Linking up this Nigella Recipe Adaptation to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme is Dress You Up!--sauces and dressings to jazz up your dishes. 


Note: A review copy of Denied 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, July 11, 2021

Five Favorite Asian-Inspired Noodle Soups for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's hot, I was out all day yesterday and so instead of making soup today, I took a nap and I am rounding up more favorite soups from the blog.

This week it's soups full of Asian ingredients and flavors and lots of noodle goodness. Let's take a look:

When you need a very quick bowl of soupy noodles, Donna Hay's Prawn Noodle Soup is perfect:


Not into seafood, try Nigella's Noodle Soup for Needy People--it has star anise, a spice I love and don't use nearly often enough. 



Craving Thai? Try Heidi Swanson's Thai Green Curry Zucchini and Noodle Soup.



If red curry is more your style, try Donna Hay's Thai Red Curry Tofu & Veggie Noodle Soup.


Low-carbing it  but still want the noodle action? My own Zucchini Noodles & Salmon in Curry-Coconut Soup will hit the spot


There are plenty more Asian-inspired soups and noodle soups on the blog too. You can't go wrong with slurping up a big bowl of any of them! 

The Souper Sundays kitchen is quiet this week but do join me sometime if you ever want to share a soup, salad, or sandwich creation! 


(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 to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
  • Although we are pretty wide on what defines a soup, sandwich or salad, entries that are clearly not in the same family (ie: desserts, meats, random main or side dishes that aren't salads, etc.) are meant for another round up and will be deleted. 
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Eight July 4th & Beyond Fun Fruit Soups for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I'm feeling lazy again this week and it's July 4th and who wants to be cooking today? So instead, I am going to bring you some fun fruit soups that would be perfect to serve today, or any hot day in July. 





If you are adventurous, fruit soups can be refreshing and fun--especially in the warm summer weather when fruit is most plentiful. I hope these eight soups inspire you to give it a try. 

It's just me in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week!


Here at Kahakai Kitchen, I shared a Grilled Cheese Sandwich from a favorite cafe this week and shared links to ten more creative grilled cheese sandwiches if you are looking for a new take on a classic. 



(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 to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.
  • Although we are pretty wide on what defines a soup, sandwich or salad, entries that are clearly not in the same family (ie: desserts, meats, random main or side dishes that aren't salads, etc.) are meant for another round up and will be deleted. 
and 

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and add a 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 this post or my blog on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter
Have a happy healthy 4th and a great week!