Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Golden Child" by Claire Adam, Served with a Recipe for Trinidad Macaroni Pie

It's only Wednesday and it's been a long week already, so in order to ease over the hump and into a hopefully better end of the week, I'm reviewing an interesting debut novel, Golden Child by Claire Adam. Accompanying my review a comfort food dish that hails from another country, but would be appropriate for carb lover's anywhere, Trinidad Macaroni Pie.


Publisher's Blurb:

A new novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint, SJP for Hogarth: a deeply affecting debut novel set in Trinidad, following the lives of a family as they navigate impossible choices about scarcity, loyalty, and love.

Rural Trinidad: a brick house on stilts surrounded by bush; a family, quietly surviving, just trying to live a decent life. Clyde, the father, works long, exhausting shifts at the petroleum plant in southern Trinidad; Joy, his wife, looks after the home. Their two sons, thirteen years old, wake early every morning to travel to the capital, Port of Spain, for school. They are twins but nothing alike: Paul has always been considered odd, while Peter is widely believed to be a genius, destined for greatness.
 
When Paul goes walking in the bush one afternoon and doesn’t come home, Clyde is forced to go looking for him, this child who has caused him endless trouble already, and who he has never really understood. And as the hours turn to days, and Clyde begins to understand Paul’s fate, his world shatters—leaving him faced with a decision no parent should ever have to make.
 
Like the Trinidadian landscape itself, GOLDEN CHILD is both beautiful and unsettling; a resoundingly human story of aspiration, betrayal, and love.

Hardcover: 288 Pages
Publisher: SJP for Hogarth (January 29, 2019)

My Review:

I signed up for this tour because I enjoyed A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, Sarah Jessica Parker's first imprint SJP for Hogarth (my review is here) and liked that once again SJP selected a novel that gave me a glimpse of a different culture. Golden Child is set in Trinidad and I think it might be the first book I have read that is set there, and it's a country I know little about. I found myself caught up in the author's vivid descriptions of the country and its people particularly, the Deyalsingh family, who this novel is centered around. Clyde is the father, a man who works hard and does not like to take charity or ask favors from others. Joy, the mother, stays at home and has a large family who (with the exception of her mother and uncle), mostly irritate Clyde by coming about so often. We meet the family when one of their two thirteen-year-old twin sons does not come home. The boys may look alike but are very different with Peter being very intelligent and Paul, who was a difficult birth and lost oxygen, being slower to develop and different. How much of that difference is nurture versus nature is unclear as from the beginning, Clyde and Joy are told he is "retarded" and treat him quite differently from the revered Peter. Paul grows up hearing that he is slow and mentally challenged and that Peter needs to look out for him, and it is too often mentioned directly to him or about him within the family and their community. The story is set mostly in the eighties and moves back and forth from the time Paul goes missing, to the twins birth and childhood, and the aftermath of Paul's disappearance and is told from the viewpoints of several characters, primarily Clyde and Paul. 

It is the writing that makes this novel engrossing, as there is not a lot of action. We find what happens to Paul and how Clyde, Joy, and Peter react to it, especially the choices that Clyde makes. I don't want to go into detail as to what happens and the devastating decision that is made so as not to give spoilers, but I will say that life in Trinidad, for this family is dangerous and difficult and Golden Child is not an easy read. Like A Place For Us, it made me melancholy (I'm wondering if SJP is becoming the new Oprah of somewhat sad and depressing  book club picks?), but it also made me think and I am still thinking about it. It's a book that is and will continue to get mixed reviews and provoke plenty of discussions at book clubs. It's a hard one to predict who will like it and who won't, but I'm glad I read it. I found Golden Child to be an excellent debut novel from a talented author and new voice that I look forward to reading more from.

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Author Notes: Claire Adam was born and raised in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. She lives with her husband and two children in London, England. GOLDEN CHILD is her first novel.

Connect with Claire on Twitter.






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Food Inspiration:

There was quite a lot of emphasis on food in Golden Child, much of it Trinidadian dishes that along with the smaller neighboring island of Tabago, takes its roots and inspiration from Indian and South Asian, African, European, Chinese, Creole and Caribbean, and Latin American dishes and ingredients. (Here's a good wiki article on the cuisine.) Homey dishes and convenience foods were the big players and the diverse food mentions included roti, melongene (eggplant), curry, choka (stew), cucumber salad, lamb gyros, frozen yogurt, arepas (white corn cakes),fish, pink cotton candy, sweet-cake with grains of brown sugar on top, curries of shrimp and chicken, rice, pie, green salad, yams, watermelon, chicken feet, cheese, eggs, macaroni, Carib beer, Solo Orange and Red Solo drinks, Flavorite ice cream (vanilla and rum 'n' raisin), roast beef, pork, Kentucky Fried Chicken, chadon beni (a pungenet cilantro-like herb), scotch bonnet peppers, peanuts, sugarcane, pelau (a chicken, pigeon peas and rice dish), buss-up-shut (a type of paratha roti flat bread), corn-soup, callaloo (a taro-leaf like greens dish), roast corn, soursop juice, jams and chutneys, chennets (a Caribbean fruit), "doubles" (a spicy curried chickpea and flat bread street-food snack), tuna salad sandwiches, a chicken and chow-mein dinner, coleslaw, bread fruit and pepper mango.


Seeing several mentions of macaroni pie in the book, I looked it up and found that it is considered classic Caribbean comfort food and that it is similar to a baked macaroni and cheese. When I realized I had everything I needed to make it with a couple of minor adjustments (ditalini pasta instead of elbow macaroni and powdered milk instead of evaporated), I knew it was going to be my book-inspired dish. There are plenty of recipes online, I riffed on Genius Kitchen's Macaroni Pie from Trinidad. My changes are in red below.


Trinidad Macaroni Pie
Slightly Adapted from Oolala via Genius Kitchen
(Serves 4)

8 oz elbow macaroni (I used ditalini)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp mustard powder
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (I used reconstituted powdered milk, same amount)
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp white pepper or to taste (I used black pepper)

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a baking dish (I used an 8" x 8")

Beat eggs until fluffy and combine them with mustard powder, then combine the macaroni, eggs, cheese, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.   

Pour into the greased baking dish and bake until firm, about 30 minutes. (At about 5 minutes before it was done I sprinkled more cheddar cheese on the top and turned the broiler element on and broiled it for about 5 minutes until golden brown.)


Notes/Results: Honestly, I have always been more of a stove top macaroni and cheese fan, liking the creamy consistency, but it turns out that I really like macaroni pie. The big difference is the fact that you don't have to melt down cheese and make a sauce, you just toss it all in a bowl and pour it into the pan. Super quick and easy. I liked the pop of flavor the added mustard power gave, along with the extra-sharp cheddar. I'd happily make it 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 "Golden Child" 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, February 10, 2019

Red Lentil and Tofu Dal: Simple & Nourishing for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

A nourishing bowl of red lentil dal this week, with added protein from tofu cubes. Stirring in a spiced oil adds flavor to this simple vegan soup.


Gourmet says, "In India, lentils, along with other dried legumes such as peas and beans, are called dals, and the word also refers to the dishes made from them. The creamy consistency is enhanced by the addition of tender cubes of tofu, which are remarkably similar in texture and color to paneer, a mild fresh Indian cheese that's often added to dals."

Red Lentil and Tofu Dal
Slightly Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, Edited by Ruth Reichl
(Serves 4)

4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced 
2 tsp finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger 
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
6-7 cups water or broth (I used a veggie no-chicken broth)
1 lb firm tofu
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp garam masala or curry powder
salt to taste
generous pinch of cayenne (I used Aleppo pepper)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro
cooked rice to serve

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Add ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lentils and broth, bring to a just a boil, and gently boil, uncovered, until lentils fall apart, about 20 minutes. Remove heat and keep warm, covered.

Meanwhile, rinse tofu and trim ends. Cut tofu into 12-inch cubes and gently press between paper towels to remove excess moisture. (Note: I pressed my tofu block overnight, then cut it into cubes.

Heat remaining oil in a small heavy skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking. Add cumin seeds and cook, stirring, until a shade darker, about 1 minute. Add garam masala, salt, and cayenne and cook, stirring until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Stir hot spice oil into lentils, then gently stir in the tofu cubes. Let curry stand, covered, for 5 minutes to allow flavors to develop, then stir in cilantro and salt to taste. Serve with rice.


Notes/Results: It's not the prettiest or most glamorous soup out there but it definitely smelled great cooking and tasted even better. I liked the creamy chucks of tofu in with the dal. I added a bit more liquid than the recipe called for but since dal tends to thicken when it sits, I think I won't have to add more liquid when I reheat it for lunches.It recommends to serve the dal with rice which makes for filling meal. I would happily make it again. 


Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Global Delights. Ruth Reichl recipes with a global flare.


Now let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here:


Beth Fish Reads, host of the fabulous Weekend Cooking shared a tasty Farro Waldorf Salad and said, "The good news is that with Trader Joe's 10-minute farro, I was able to put this salad together in a snap. And because I used powdered (and reconstituted) buttermilk for the dressing, I wasn't stuck with a bottle of leftovers. The main thing I did differently was to use regular raisins. I thought I had golden raisins in the house, but I didn't, so just went for black ones."

Here at Kahakai Kitchen I made a delicious sandwich this week, with egg salad on top for a recent book review. This French-Inspired Egg Salad has cornichons, Dijon mustard, and chives on top and tasted even better served open-faced on toasted baguette slices. I had an olive and bean salad mixture from the grocery store olive bar on the side. 


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 to Souper Sundays 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 (completely optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Lost Girls of Paris" by Pam Jenoff, Served with French-Inspired Egg Salad

It's Friday and it's been a very long and busy week. To ease into the weekend, I have a fabulous book and a delicious sandwich pairing to share. Having loved her last book (The Orphan's Tale--see my review here), I am very excited to be today's TLC Book Tour stop for Pam Jenoff's latest novel, The Lost Girls of Paris. Accompanying my review is a simple French Inspired Egg Salad Sandwich.


Publisher's Blurb:

1946, Manhattan

One morning while passing through Grand Central Terminal on her way to work, Grace Healey finds an abandoned suitcase tucked beneath a bench. Unable to resist her own curiosity, Grace opens the suitcase, where she discovers a dozen photographs—each of a different woman. In a moment of impulse, Grace takes the photographs and quickly leaves the station.

Grace soon learns that the suitcase belonged to a woman named Eleanor Trigg, leader of a network of female secret agents who were deployed out of London during the war. Twelve of these women were sent to Occupied Europe as couriers and radio operators to aid the resistance, but they never returned home, their fates a mystery. Setting out to learn the truth behind the women in the photographs, Grace finds herself drawn to a young mother turned agent named Marie, whose daring mission overseas reveals a remarkable story of friendship, valor and betrayal.

Vividly rendered and inspired by true events, New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff shines a light on the incredible heroics of the brave women of the war and weaves a mesmerizing tale of courage, sisterhood and the great strength of women to survive in the hardest of circumstances.

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Park Row; Original edition (January 29, 2019)


My Review:

Well if you read my reviews, you know that historical fiction, especially WWII fiction is one of my favorite genres and Pam Jenoff is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. As in The Orphan's Tale, she crafted compelling female characters, placed them in interesting circumstances and weaves three characters' stories together in a engaging way that made me care about each of them. Grace, a young widow working for a public attorney in New York tells her story in 1946, after the war has ended. Eleanor takes us back to 1943 England, when she is tagged by her boss to start a women's division of the SOE (Special Operation Executive), a network of agents sent to infiltrate France and Occupied Europe to conduct espionage, reconnaissance, and sabotage against the Germans. Marie, a single mother, is one of the young women recruited as an agent for the SOE in 1943. Grace gains possession of an envelope belonging to Eleanor with twelve photos of young women (including Marie), the lost girls in the title, all missing and presumed killed by the Germans. 

Each of the main characters was compelling, although having three characters in under 400 pages, it was hard to get as deeply entrenched in their lives as I wanted to, not to mention not being able to learn more about some of the supporting characters that interested me--especially the other female agents and Grace's boss, Frankie, with his work in assisting the displaced European Jews in New York. The story moved along well, building the tension and although the reader has the general idea of what will happen, there are a few twists and turns left to discover. Once I was into the story, I found it hard to put down and it had me googling the SOE to learn more about this division and particularly the courageous young female agents who gave so much. If you love historical fiction, World War II fiction, suspense, and books with strong female characters, you will enjoy The Lost Girls of Paris.

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Author Notes: Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including the international bestseller The Kommandant’s Girl, which also earned her a Quill Award nomination. Pam lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school.

Connect with Pam on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.



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Food Inspiration:

Although it being wartime and shortly after when food was rationed, there was still some food to be found in The Lost Girls of Paris. It was a mix of British, American, and French dishes including brandy, hot dogs, cinnamon scones, broiled chicken with a potato, baguette, gravy with bread, wine, a grilled cheese sandwich and a Pepsi, coffee, eggs and bacon, baked beans, cheese, bread and fruit, a ham and cheese sandwich, Earl Gray tea, a dry martini, "mystery" meat and potatoes, coffee and Sacher torte, and champagne.


As Grace's usual lunch that she took to work in New York City was egg salad sandwiches, a favorite of mine as well, I decided to make an egg salad sandwich as my book-inspired dish. I wanted to give my salad a bit of a French feel for the brave women that were lost in France so I made a few additions to my normal egg salad.


I won't write an actual recipe because I feel like egg salad is one of those things that you should make according to your own preferences but my mix for this French-inspired one was two hard-boiled eggs (whites chopped coarsely, yolks mashed), 1 Tbsp chopped cornichons, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, good mayo (I used about 1/3 cup), a couple of chopped roasted red pepper slices from the pictured olive salad mix from the grocery store, sea salt and black pepper. I served it on a section of baguette, split, rubbed with olive oil and toasted and topped it with cut chives. 


Notes/Results: I normally like my egg salad on the plainer side--just mayo, a bit of mustard, salt and pepper, but I could happily eat this one again. The tangy, briny cornichons were a great contrast to the creamy eggs and the baguette was perfectly crisp. It made a great "Friday is Here!" dinner.


Linking this open-faced sandwich up at this week's Souper Sundays, here at Kahakai Kitchen, where anyone can share a soup, salad, or sandwich creation. 


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 Lost Girls of Paris" 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, February 3, 2019

A Souper Bowl of Shrimp in Coconut Milk with Rice for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It doesn't get cold enough here to give me cabin fever, but we have had a very rainy and blustery week, that has me limiting my outside time. A sure cure for the inside blahs is a bowl of soup with a tropical vibe, like this recipe for Shrimp and Coconut Milk from The Gourmet Cookbook (checked out of the library to give me some more Ruth Reichl recipes)


This is meant to be more of a soupy dish than an actual soup, but I added extra coconut milk and broth and left out the flour. It soups up quite nicely and since it's Super Bowl Sunday, I'd call it a Souper Bowl of tasty soup. My changes to the recipe are noted in red below.


Shrimp in Coconut Milk with Rice 
Slightly Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook, Edited by Ruth Reichl 
(Serves 4 to 6)

1 1/2 lbs large shrimp in shells (21-25 per pound) (I used 16-20 per lb)
4 cups water
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (I added extra to soup)
3 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used 2 Tbsp olive oil)
2 garlic cloves
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, & thinly spiced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced (I used one large sweet onion)
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour (I omitted)
2 (14-16 oz) cans whole tomatoes in juice, drained, seeded & chopped
(I added 2 cups good light vegetable stock)
2 cups well-stirred unsweetened coconut milk (from two 14 oz cans) (I added both cans)
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sliced scallions greens (from 2 large scallions)
1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro sprigs
Cooked rice to serve

Combine shrimp shells, water, and salt in a 3-quart saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer until reduced to about 2 cups, 15 to 20 minutes. Pour shrimp broth through a sieve into a large glass measuring cup; discard shells.

Meanwhile, combine shrimp, lime juice, and salt to taste in a bowl and refrigerate, covered.

Heat oil in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat. Add garlic, bell pepper, and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, coconut milk, and shrimp broth and simmer, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft, 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain shrimp, add to saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally, until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with scallions and cilantro. (I added extra lime juice to taste.) Serve with rice.


Notes/Results: Simple, rich and great flavor from the shrimp stock (although the non-chicken veggie stock and extra lime juice I added helped too). The rice is a must to soak up the creamy coconut milk broth and the the cilantro and green onion add color and flavor. The soup has a couple of extra steps--making the shrimp stock (keep this step for the flavor) and using whole tomatoes, but chopping, de-seeding and draining them (I think you could easily use good diced tomatoes and skip this step with no ill effects). It's cool but sunny today (finally) and this soup made a great Souper Bowl Sunday lunch. I would happily make it again.


Linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's theme is Cabin Fever--Ruth Reichl recipes to soothe your spirit when you have been cooped up in the cold weather.  

 
Now let's look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here:


Debra of Eliot's Eats shared two recipes this week. First is her soupy Instant Pot Anasazi Beans. She says, "I had a surplus of Anasazi beans in the pantry and I used some of the roasted green chiles that I have in the freezer along with some long-ago-forgotten frozen ham. Everything else came from the pantry so this was an easy meal. ... These Anasazi beans came from the Taos farmer’s market. It’s a good thing that dried beans virtually last forever because it has been some time since we traveled to New Mexico. The provenance of the beans is what prompted me to throw in the Hatch green chiles."

  
Her next dish is this tasty looking Kula Pickled Beet Salad for our recent Cook the Books book club selection. She said, "I was lazy and shredded my daikon and carrots and just made “sticks” out of the cucumber. Because I had a surplus of jarred pickled beets (more about that later), I just used a premade pickled beet for this recipe. That being said, I do want to try the ginger and lemongrass recipe the next time I harvest beets. I was a little skeptical about the pureed kale. I have to say that the smear of kale made this salad!"


QuiltLady of Chasing My Life is here with a Deconstructed Pork Egg Roll Salad that takes a classic Asian-style appetizer and puts it into salad form. Ponzu sauce and crispy wontons top it off.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared Grilled Potato Salad and said, "I try some copycat recipes sometimes and this one is inspired from Zoe's Kitchen. Potato salad can make a nice side dish but I don't like the ones that have too much mayonnaise. I saw this grilled version on the menu and thought I had to try it. Looking and tasting the version I was served at Zoe's resulted in a fairly good version, but not an identical knockoff."


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog brought Moroccan Chickpea and Olive Salad and said, "Chickpea and olive salad is easy to make and absolutely delicious. Moroccan recipes often include a fair amount of olives, and this dish is no exception. This wonderful vegan salad can be made with green and or black olives, chickpeas, and cured lemon with lots of healthy herbs and spices."


Mahalo to everyone who joined 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 to Souper Sundays 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 (completely optional).



Have a happy, healthy week!
 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Pretty in Punxsutawney" by Laurie Boyle Crompton, Served with Sweet and Salty Whoppers Popcorn

Happy Last Day of January! Where did the month go? Time flies so fast that I often wish I could slow it down, but I wouldn't want to relive the same day over and over again, like Andie in the new YA novel, Pretty in Punxsutawney by Laurie Boyle Crompton. A mashup of the movies Groundhog Day and Pretty in Pink, with a nod to rom-coms and the movies of the eighties, I'm happy to be today's TLC Book Tour stop and to pair my review with some tasty Whoppers Popcorn, a sweet and salty mashup of two concession stand staples.


Publisher's Blurb:

Groundhog Day meets Pretty in Pink mashup from author Laurie Boyle Crompton, Pretty in Punxsutawney tells the tale of a girl willing to look beneath the surface to see people for who they really are.

Andie is the type of girl who always comes up with the perfect thing to say…after it’s too late to say it. She’s addicted to romance movies—okay, all movies—but has yet to experience her first kiss.  After a move to Punxsutawney, PA, for her senior year, she gets caught in an endless loop of her first day at her new school, reliving those 24 hours again and again.

Convinced the curse will be broken when she meets her true love, Andie embarks on a mission: infiltrating the various cliques to find the one boy who can break the spell. What she discovers along the way is that people who seem completely different can often share the very same hopes, dreams, and hang-ups. And that even a day that has been lived over and over can be filled with unexpected connections and plenty of happy endings.

Hardcover: 304 Pages
Publisher: Blink (January 15, 2019)

My Review:

I am not the demographic for YA fiction (by a few years...cough...) but I like to dabble in it occasionally, especially when it ties in to movies I love. I have expressed before my fondness for John Hughes teen films and rom-coms and Pretty in Punxsutawny makes the most of them. Andie's mom is a Hughes fanatic, leaning to the movies as part of her parenting, pulling them out to bond with Andie, and make a life point when necessary. Andie's name even comes from her mom's favorite, Pretty in Pink, although like me, Andie prefers The Breakfast Club and doesn't like the way Pretty in Pink ended.

Anyway, Andie's parents have moved the family to the busier Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania so her psychologist dad can have more patients. Forced to start over at a new high school in her senior year, Andie spends the summer hanging out at the local movie theater crushing on handsome Colton and plotting how their "meet-cute" can turn into a romance and her first kiss. Unfortunately the first day of school has Colton falling for the resident mean girl and Andie happy the day is over with...but then it isn't. Punxsutawney's magic seems to have left the movie screen when Andie must relive her first day at school again and again, with no end in sight. Andie hopes that a kiss with her true love will start the time clock moving and starts trying different things to make it happen. 

I enjoyed the fun, humor, and sweetness of the story, even though I identify more with Andie's parents than Andie. Still, it's not hard to be taken back to the days of teenage angst and remember it all--the high points and the horrors of high school. Andie is a great character and I loved the balance of her awkwardness and snarky humor. It's not just the eighties and John Hughes movies that show up, there are classic movie mentions as well as other popular movie mentions. One of my favorite moments is Andie calling on Drew Barrymore's short-term memory plot points from Fifty First Dates (2004) as an excuse for her awkward behavior with some new friends. This book works well today for a YA reader, but is also great for the movie buff and those of us that were in high school in the eighties. It definitely put me in the mood for a classic rom-com movie binge and I'd recommend it if you want a light, enjoyable escape.
 
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Author Notes: Laurie Boyle Crompton is the author of several YA books, including Adrenaline Crush and Love and Vandalism. Laurie graduated first in her class from St. John’s University with a BA in English and Journalism. She has written for national magazines like Allure, survived a teaching stint at an all-boy high school, and appeared onGood Day New York several times as a toy expert. And yes, “toy expert” is an actual profession. She grew up in a small town in western PA and now lives near NYC with her family and one enormous and very fuzzy “dog toy expert” named Baxter Bear.

Connect with Laurie on her website, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

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Food Inspiration:

Since much of the book is about Andie living the same day over and over at high school there is not a lot of food presence in the book and not too much that inspires. Cafeteria pizza keeps giving Andie stomachaches and the switch to "brown goo" didn't tempt. Andie's dad makes pancakes on her loop of days and their were mentions of midnight cookies, Puffs 'o Oats cereal, lemon squares, pudding, cheesy puffs, the mall food court with Szechwan chicken and rice and Cheddar, Bacon and Broccoli Spudz from Spudz World. There's beer at a party, canned bean soup, pineapple and passion fruit mentions and when Andie starts altering her days she heads to the city for a hamburger, learns pancake art and teaches herself to make elaborate fondant art of cakes inspired by John Hughes eighties movies. 


Ultimately for my book inspired dish, I went to a couple of movie concession staples Whoppers and popcorn since Andie's self-proclaimed "meet cute" with the boy she is crushing on involves her smuggling a big box of Whoppers into the theater and getting caught out and made to buy popcorn. Rather than hand in her favorite treat, she stuffs a good portion of the box into her mouth. I decided to combine them with buttered popcorn for a sweet and salty (& malty) combination.


Whoppers Popcorn: This is not a recipe--you just need a box of Whoppers or any malted milk ball candy and an appropriate amount of popped popcorn and blend them together. If you like your chocolate on the melty-er side, make sure the popcorn is hot. For a less messy version, let the popcorn cool a bit before stirring it with the malted milk balls. Either way, it is pretty addicting (she says as she stuffs handfuls in her mouth ala Andie!) ;-)


Notes/Results: I won't lie to you. This mix was my dinner after a long day at work and I really enjoyed it. I have mixed my favorite movie concession stand candy, Rasinets, with popcorn before and that combo slightly edges out this one for me, but I certainly would not mind making this one again. The sweet and malted chocolate pairs well with the salty, buttery popcorn. A fun way to mix up your popcorn. I usually use my air popper when I want popcorn as it's healthier, but for this I bought the full octane "Movie Theater Butter" microwave popcorn. Sure, I might have ingested my quota of chemicals with this mix but it was sure fun going down. ;-)


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 "Pretty in Punxsutawney" 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.