Friday, January 31, 2020

Stuffed Baguette with Cheese and Herbs for Cook the Books December/January Pick: "The Language of Flowers"

January 2020 comes to a close today and with it, this round of Cook the Books, our bi-monthly virtual foodie book club. Of course, I would be me if I wasn't running in at the last minute with my entry! This month we read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, hosted by Debra of Eliot's Eats and while maybe not necessarily a foodie novel, it is definitely food-filled and related, and a very good book that I enjoyed. Also, it provided the inspiration for the delicious appetizer you see below.

From the Publisher; 

"The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness."

I will say that it took me a while to get into the book and to grow care for Victoria. I certainly empathized with her and was horrified of the life she led in foster care and when she got out of it--but she is not an easy person to like. Also, I kept picking up happier books because there was A LOT of struggle to find the happy in this book, and I wasn't sure things were going to turn out. So, although it started out as feeling like the book was an accident I couldn't look away from, at some point in the middle it drew me in and I began to root for Victoria. The Language of Flowers is definitely about love (romantic, familial, and love of self), family, second-chances, and hope, and the writing is beautiful. I especially loved reading about Victoria creating her boxes of flower photos and their meanings, and her business creating the perfect flower arrangements for brides and others seeking just the right way to say something with flowers. So in the end, I really enjoyed the book and I am happy that Debra chose it. I had picked it up a few times in the library, but I might not have gotten around to reading it or stayed with it without Cook the Books and Debra.

So for food there was a good amount including chili, lots of fruit and produce from the farmers market, fish and chips, chocolate milkshake, pasta, ham, cherry tomatoes, apples, American cheese, peanut butter, donuts, wine grapes, peach-banana pancakes, sliced pear and a muffin full of warm chunks of banana and peanut butter chips, Thanksgiving dinner, chicken curry, white rice with soy sauce, sandwiches, soup, canned beef ravioli, chocolate souffle, rosemary new potatoes, blackberry cobbler and homemade ice cream, a whole baked fish with spices and some kind of root vegetables, beans, peas and potatoes with parsley, mushroom soup, eggs over easy, raisin bread, rib roast, cupcakes, vanilla yogurt, burritos, cinnamon rolls, milk, tofu casserole, trail mix, grilled cheese sandwiches, tea, cheesecake, butternut squash soup--extra hot, a whole roasted chicken on a silver platter with a long tray of roasted vegetables, and lentil soup.

For my bookish dish, I was going to make donuts--maple ones from biscuits like my mom used to make when I was growing up or the banana and peanut butter chip muffins, but then I saw a passage (see below) about the appetizer that Grant made Victoria of a stuffed baguette with cheese, capers, olives and herbs. I liked the sound of that and the chance to use the herbs, a least close to flowers, in it. Also, although that night did not end well, I liked how Grant taught himself to cook and how he fed the always ravenous Victoria. Food is love, after all.  

I followed what the book described other than adding some tiny pickled peppers and laying mine in a circle on the plate--like a flower. I used the herbs I had on hand or could get from the grocery--although I included their meanings in the recipe (from Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers in the book and also my own book of the symbolism of herbs for the ones not mentioned) and it is a very mixed message! ;-)

From the book:

"Grant had set out slices of a baguette stuffed with something--cream cheese, maybe, or something fancier--with bits of chopped herbs, olives, and capers. The appetizers were arranged in rows on a square ceramic plate. I started at one end and went down the rows, popping each circle into my mouth whole. I looked up before I ate the last one, and Grant was watching with a smile. "You want it?' I asked, pointing to the last slice. "No. You'll need the sustenance to wait for the next course; the rib roast still has forty-five minutes.' I ate the last one and groaned. 'I don't think I can wait that long.'"

Stuffed Baguette with Cheese and Herbs
By Deb, Inspired by The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
(Serves 3 or 4, or one hungry Victoria...)

1 small baguette about 10-inches long
about 6 oz cream cheese, softened to room temp
about 12 oz goat cheese, softened to room temp
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup sweety drops or peppadews (tiny red peppers from the olive bar), diced
1/3 cup olives of choice, pitted and diced 2 Tbsp capers, drained, chop if desired
About 1 Tbsp each finely chopped:
-parsley (festivity)
-basil (hatred, yikes!)
-thyme leaves (activity)
-dill (luck or wealth)
About 1/2 Tbsp each
-sage (good health and long life)
-rosemary leaves (remembrance)
freshly ground black pepper and a little salt (only if needed) to taste

Slice off the ends of the baguette. Using a long thin knife, working from both ends, carefully  hollow the baguette out leaving about 1/2-inch thick of bread and crust all around the edges. 

In a medium bowl, mix the soften creamed cheese and got cheese together with a fork,  until smooth and lump-free. Stir in the garlic, peppers, olives, capers and herbs until thoroughly mixed together. Taste and stir in black pepper and salt if any is needed, to taste.
Using a spoon and working from both ends, fill the hollowed baguette with the cheese mixture, packing in the filling tight with the back of the spoon. Wrap the stuffed baguette well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours and up to two days. 

Directly before serving, slice the baguette into 1/2-inch thick slices and serve. Wipe down your knife in between slices to keep it neat. Arrange on a serving plate (I did mine in a flower shape) ;-) and enjoy.

Notes/Results: Such a great little appetizer, I am sure I will be making variations of this often.  You could definitely change it out with your favorite ingredients in your favorite soft cheese and be perfectly happy noshing away. I ate a bunch for dinner and took the remainder to work with me with my vegan soup. I think they look pretty cool too. I will happily make them again.

The deadline for this round of Cook the Books is today, January 31st and Debra will be rounding up the entries on the CTB site soon after. If you missed this round and like food, books, and foodie books, join us for our February/March pick, Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran and hosted by Simona of briciole

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.


Thursday, January 30, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Hollows" by Jess Montgomery, Served with Corn Pone Cakes with Apricot Jam

I am very excited to be a stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Hollows by Jess Montgomery, the second book in her Kinship series of historical mysteries. Accompanying my review are some Corn Pone cakes, topped with jam, inspired by my reading. 

Publisher's Blurb:

Jess Montgomery showcases her skills as a storyteller in The Hollows: a powerful, big-hearted and exquisitely written follow-up to her highly acclaimed debut The Widows.
Ohio, 1926: For many years, the railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a shortcut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.
Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths. With the help of her friends Marvena Whitcomb and Hildy Cooper, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows–a notorious asylum–and they begin to expose dark secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.

Series: The Kinship Series (Book 2) 
Hardcover: 352 pages 
Publisher: Minotaur Books (January 14, 2020)

My Review: 

I will confess that because I enjoyed Montgomery's The Widows, (the first book in her series) so much, I was bitterly disappointed that I somehow missed being on the tour for The Hollows and made my disappointment known on TLC Book Tour's Instagram page. Thankfully, Lisa was able to get me a last-hour e-book copy and a tour date. (While not dignified, pouting can work!). ;-) It does mean no pretty book cover shots so I had to cut and paste a bit, but needs must. So with that start, in the back of my mind was whether this second book would be as good as the first and worth the fuss, and I am happy to report that it is. The Hollows turned out to be even better than The Widows, and an engrossing read. Set in 1926s, Lily Ross is still the sheriff of Kinship, Ohio (due to her husband's murder the previous year, covered in the first book) and is facing a contentious reelection, when she investigates a woman hit by a train by the Moonvale Tunnel, outside of town. When it turns out that the elderly woman was very likely pushed to her death, Lily's investigation starts unraveling long-buried secrets just as her campaign is heating up, the local mine is integrating, and a group of the Women's Ku Klux Klan (WKKK) is stirring up violence and trouble in the community. 

I think what made this book so fascinating to me was the WKKK as I knew almost nothing about these women who used the suffrage movement to advance their recruitment, and used their political power, protest, and violent acts to promote traditional roles and values and preserve their white protestant rights and privileges. I ended up looking up additional information on the WKKK and its activities, prompted by this book and that is something that I love about historical fiction. Montgomery's afterward mentions that although she did not find direct evidence of the WKKK in the location the book is set, Ohio has a state with a strong presence of the group in the 1920s. I enjoyed getting back to the characters of Lily Ross and her friends Marvena and Hildy. Montgomery makes their stories compelling, and I appreciate both their strengths and the fact that they are not perfect--each struggles with the constraints put on them from the era but fights hard for her beliefs and for justice. The mystery in the book was good and kept me guessing--(although I did successfully predict some parts), and the tension built kept me not wanting to put it down until the end. If you like historical fiction and mysteries, strong female characters, and rural America in the 1920s, the Kinship series is excellent. Start with The Widows so that you get all of the back story of the characters and their relationships.


Author Notes: Jess Montgomery is the Literary Life columnist for the Dayton Daily News and Executive Director of the renowned Antioch Writers’ Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Based on early chapters of The Widows, Jess was awarded an Ohio Arts Council individual artist’s grant for literary arts and the John E. Nance Writer-in-Residence at Thurber House in Columbus. She lives in her native state of Ohio.

You can connect with Jess on her websiteFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


Food Inspiration:

There is a good amount of food mentioned in The Hollows including pawpaws, coffee, sorghum cookies, sandwiches, a garden full of tomato, squash and pole beans, soup beans, corn pone and dried-apple stack cake, sassafras, elderberry, chamomile, and peppermint teas, canned peas, tomato aspic, bacon and buttermilk biscuits, 
a sandwich of ham, butter and greens between sliced corn pone, applesauce,
scrambled eggs and fried green tomatoes, chicken and dumplings with biscuits, Campbell's tomato soup all the way from Columbus, apple cake, a bologna sandwich, vinegar pie, hot milk with a dollop of brown sugar, ham salad sandwiches, briny pickles, penny candy, a jar of licorice, biscuits and jam, string beans, sugar cookies, lemonade, fried chicken and potato salad, a breakfast of leftover corn pone and buttermilk, a taffy pull cookies and tea, strawberries, eggs, potato pierogies and a poke salad, canned late harvest tomatoes, sorghum and sugar cream pies, a meal "heavy and exotic" in an Italian restaurant in the city of "soup with meatballs and spinach, salad with black olives, lasagna rich with mozzarella cheese, garlicky breadsticks, and a dessert she's never heard of before: a slice of zuccotto, a cream-filled sponge cake topped with chocolate icing," chicken noodle soup and a roll, ham, green tomato pie, bone broth, and a four-tiered wedding cake. 

Recipe Inspiration:  

I ended up picking corn pone (an eggless cornbread, fried or baked) or my bookish dish as it appears throughout the book as a side, breakfast, sandwich, etc. and I had all I needed to make this simple staple food. I decided to make it into round, biscuit-like shapes (a nod to all of the biscuits in the book) and top them with jam. I had a jar of apricot jam open, so that's what I used.There were a plethora of recipes on line but I went with a really basic one from Cookstr from Southern Chef, Edna Lewis.

"The rather stiff batter would be shaped with both hands, fingers closed, to make a large egg shape — the shape of your hand. The pones were about 3 inches wide, and were placed an inch apart on a baking sheet. Baked in a fairly hot oven, when done they were golden brown in color and very crusty outside, which made them more delicious. We would cut them in half and butter them."

Corn Pone
Recipe from The Taste of Country Cooking by Edna Lewis, via
(Makes 4 Pones--about 3-in wide, 1 1/2-in tall and 4-in long)

2 cups water-ground white cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp melted lard or butter

Sift the meal, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the water and milk. Stir well, add melted fat, and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes.

Then take the batter and shape it into pones by cupping both hands together and patting it into form.

Place each pone upon a baking sheet an inch apart from the others and bake in a preheated 375 degrees F oven for 15 to 20 minutes — no longer or the bread will dry out.

Notes/Results: OK, I am more a fan of the softer, bready cornbread than this tougher biscuit, but warm, buttered and topped with apricot preserves, these were a tasty little snack. I can see how some of the recipe additions like milk or bacon fat would be appealing in upping the corn pone flavor profile. Still, quick and easy and if you keep cornmeal in your pantry, a good biscuit substitute when you *need* one.

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 Hollows" 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, January 26, 2020

Potato-Leek Soup with Tarragon and Fennel Seeds from "Eat For The Planet Cookbook" for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays & for #AbramsDinnerParty

I was very happy to find out that several of the cookbooks I received from Abrams Books as part of Abrams Dinner Party were veg-friendly and I wasn't trying to find recipes in a bunch of meat-centric cookbook. Eat For The Planet Cookbook: 75 Recipes from Leaders of the Plant-Based Movement That Will Help Save the World is a vegan cookbook with a plethora of recipes that I can eat and that sound totally appealing. I plan to cook a lot from this book and the Potato-Leek Soup with Tarragon and Fennel Seeds tempted me first.

I love potato-leek soup and tarragon and fennel seeds so this simple, but highly-flavored soup is right up my alley. First let's talk about the book. Edited by Nil Zacharias, Co-Founder of One Green Planet and Eat for the Planet, and Gene Stone, Author of the New York Times Best Seller, Forks Over Knives. and features contributions from about 50 contributors--individuals and companies. More than a vegan cookbook, it's a resource for how eat less meat and more plants and explaining why that's better for the planet. The book starts with the whys, then covers how to prepare your kitchen for a plant-based diet. Recipes are broken down by Breakfast and Brunch, Appetizers, Soups, Stews, Salads, and Sides, Wraps, Burgers and Tacos, Pasta and Noodles, Main Dishes and Desserts. Although there are some recipes that are based around particular vegan products, the majority can be made with access to good produce and items readily found in a good grocery store. I saw someone call it "vegan junk food" on Amazon but I disagree, there are plenty of healthy, non-processed options balanced with more indulgent options.

Abrams Books (January 7, 2020)
Hardcover 192 pages / 75 color photographs

I tagged multiple recipes to make including: Biscuits with Hollandaise, Wicked Baked S'mores Oatmeal, Baked Artichoke Hearts, Loaded Brussels Sprouts Nachos, Cambodian Mushroom Dip, Macadamia Pesto Crostini, "No Chicken" Enchilada Soup, Smoky Jackfruit Stew, Thai Slaw, Nepali Greens, Farmhouse Caesar, Crispy Smashed Potato with Avocado Aioli, Lentil Tacos with Roasted Cauliflower, Artichoke Penne, Vegan Seafood Pasta, Lentil Shepherd Pie, Mushroom Stroganoff, Country-Fried Tofu, Almond-Rosemary-Crusted Tofu, Golden Milk Rice Pudding,  Barely Any Sugar Blueberry Cobbler, Mango Chia Seed Pudding, and Lemon Cheesecake Frozen Cookies and I look forward to cooking more from it and posting it here.

But now the soup...

"This recipe is perfect for a cold day and when you want something quickly," says Allison. Made with just a few simple ingredients, this soup is nutritious and a lighter take on traditional creamy potato-leek soup. The fennel seeds add a unique taste that complements the sweetness of the leeks perfectly.

Potato-Leek Soup with Tarragon and Fennel Seeds
Recipe by Allison McLaughlin for Eat For The Planet Cookbook
(Makes About 8 Cups/Serves 4)

1 tsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 carrots, diced
10 Yukon gold potatoes, diced (I used baby Yukon gold potatoes)
2 leeks, trimmed, thinly sliced, and rinsed to remove sand
1 tsp dried tarragon
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
salt and ground black pepper
4 cups (960 ml) vegetable stock, plus more if needed (I used non-chicken soup paste)
chopped chives or scallions, for garnish

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring until toasty and aromatic, about 1 minute. Add carrots, potatoes, and leeks and stir to combine. Add tarragon, bay leaves, and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring to allow the vegetables to soften slightly and become infused with the herbs. 

Gently pour in 4 cups (60 ml) stock and turn up the heat to medium-high. Bring the soup to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes. Check the potatoes and carrots to make sure they are fully cooked but not overdone. Add more stock if you prefer a thinner consistency. Remove the bay leaves and serve hot (see Note), garnished with chives or scallions. Leftovers can be refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

Note: If you prefer a creamier texture, use an immersion blender or a high-powered blender to blend part of the soup.

Notes/Results: I love the flavor of this soup--the tarragon and fennel seed adds so much distinctive taste--they definitely come through so you need to like then. I ended up blending a couple of cups of my soup back into the pot and liked the thick and creamy texture it added. This is a simple soup, satisfying and filling and makes a great light meal--though you could certainly add bread or a side salad. Although the recipe blurb says this easy soup is good for a cold day, I live in Hawaii and find it just as good on a temperate 80 degree day as well. I would happily make it again.

Many thank to Abrams Books and #AbramsDinner Party for this great new cookbook that I intend to cook a lot from. This post is sponsored by Abrams Books, as part of the Abrams Dinner Party however my thoughts, feelings and experiences cooking from it are my own.  #sponsored 

I'm also sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Let's check the Souper Sundays kitchen this week and see who is here:

Judy of Gluten-Free A - Z Blog shared Hearts of Palm Salad and said, "Hearts of palms are a perfect addition to any salad. They have a great taste, are low in calories and fat but high in nutrients. This is a picture of the salad that I shared with my husband last night for dinner before we mixed it. Not only did I use hearts of palm, but I added some of my other favorite vegetables: purple radicchio, cucumber, artichoke, spring mix, avocado. walnuts, and sunflower seeds. You can use any proportion according to your own tastes and preferences."


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought a Chicken Salad Sandwich made from a roast chicken dinner, saying "Our main dish was an easy roasted chicken meal with halved cherry tomatoes, onions, olive oil, basil and oregano. The chicken dinner lasted for two nights and as this left two smaller chicken thighs, I decided to make the most of it and create a chicken salad. Very little mayo but lots of the flavors of the olive oil, roasted tomatoes and onions. Sliced tomato and lettuce made it a hearty enough lunch.  Highly recommended."

Vicki of I'd Rather Be At the Beach shared Instant Pot White Beans with Smoked Sausage and said, "This was quick and easy meal to make. I left the celery out because I didn’t have any and I used Cajun seasoning because I love it and anyway I didn’t have any fresh thyme. … My favorite thing about making this recipe in the Instant Pot was that I didn’t have to boil the beans and let them sit for an hour or so. Just pick, rinse, and add to the IP. So easy! So good!"

Thanks to everyone who joined me this 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.

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!

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets" by Annie England Noblin, Served with Sweet Potato Waffle Fries with Two Dipping Sauces

I am happy to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets, a new novel by Annie England Noblin. Accompanying my review are some Sweet Potato Waffle Fries with recipes for two dipping sauces--Smoked Paprika & Garlic Aioli and Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, inspired by my reading.

Publisher's Blurb:

If you love Susan Mallery and Jill Shalvis, you won’t want to miss this new novel of second chances, dogs, and knitting, from the author of Pupcakes and Sit! Stay! Speak!
Laid off, cheated on, mugged: what else can go wrong in Maeve Stephens’ life? So when she learns her birth mother has left her a house, a vintage VW Beetle, and a marauding cat, in the small town of Timber Creek, Washington, she packs up to discover the truth about her past.
She arrives to the sight of a cheerful bulldog abandoned on her front porch, a reclusive but tempting author living next door, and a set of ready-made friends at the St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets, where women knit colorful sweaters for the dogs and cats in their care. But there’s also an undercurrent of something that doesn’t sit right with Maeve. What’s the secret (besides her!) that her mother had hidden?
If Maeve is going to make Timber Creek her home, she must figure out where she fits in and unravel the truth about her past. But is she ready to be adopted again—this time, by an entire town…?
 Paperback: 384 pages 
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (January 14, 2020)

My Review:

I signed up for the tour based on the title, the description and the cover because I like a good small town, rebuild-you-life, animal-filled story with secrets and while that is in the book, the pets take a backseat to the drama involving the main character Maeve, her birth mother Annabelle and some of the people Maeve meets when she travels from Seattle to Timber Creek Washington to attend Annabelle's funeral. Maeve's life was in disarray before she receives a call from Alice, her birth mother's best friend, letting her know Annabelle has died and inviting her to the funeral. Maeve had never met Annabelle and is bitter because she tried to reach out to her when she was a teenager and her letters were returned but she heads to Timber Creek for closure and to find out more about this mysterious woman who gave her away. Upon her arrival she finds out Annabelle has left her house and worldly possessions and becomes involved with the people who knew her best, uncovering more about Annabelle and about the people in the small town she is quickly becoming attached to. 

Although not quite as light as I thought it was going to be because of some darker themes of abuse and domestic violence, St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets was an enjoyable read. There is humor, a few pets wearing sweaters, romance and mystery worked in. I liked Maeve and her sense of humor as well as the supporting characters. The story is told from Maeve's point of view with chapters from Annabelle's past woven through the story, helping the secrets unfold. I wanted a bit more from the book's ending--although things were wrapped up, it happened rather quickly and I felt it could have been drawn out a bit more given the investment of pages building to the conclusion. Also, and not to be picky because I did receive an uncorrected proof for review, there was a big plot continuity error that threw me off and had me going back to reread what transpired multiple times, and then questioning some of what I read after that chapter to reconcile it in my mind. I can't imagine that it made it into the final version, but it will have me grab the published book when I see it and check. Despite these things, the story-telling and characters made the book for me and the darker spots are not overwrought or excessive. I found myself caught up in the story and not wanting to leave it. This is the first book I have read from this author and I will be checking out her other titles. I'd love to see more set in Timber Creek too. If you like women's fiction, drama, books set small towns with quirky characters, and a good balance of humor and poignancy, I'm sure you will like it too.


Author Notes: Annie England Noblin lives with her son, husband, and three dogs in the Missouri Ozarks. She graduated with an M.A. in creative writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

Find out more about Annie at her website, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Food Inspiration:

There was food mentioned in St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets, but not a lot of it. Mentions did include hot dogs, and chili dogs, cake and ice cream, red wine, Bud Light, pizza, white wine, a dainty salad with vinaigrette dressing on the side, pork chops smothered in gravy, salad with ranch dressing, mushrooms, Doritos and Pepsi, Tab and Corn Nuts, hamburgers, sweet potato fries and draft beer, a bagel and a glass of orange juice, "powdered eggs and sad looking bacon," energy bars, avocados, fruits and vegetables, Toaster Strudel, Diet Coke, barbecue, an energy drink, donuts and coffee, a granola bar and tea.

For my book-inspired dish, I went with food that was mentioned several times from the local bar and restaurant--Three Sheets. It seemed like hamburgers and sweet potato fries ruled the menu in the town of Timber Creek. Since I don't eat meat and hamburgers, I decided to focus on the sweet potato fries and more importantly some good dipping sauces. I know that I could bake or fry up my own sweet potato fries but frankly, it seemed too much bother and I really like these Alexia Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Seasoned Fries and they just happened to be on sale this week at my local grocery store. That meant I just needed to bake them crisp and make some sauces. 

I love garlic aioli and make a spicy sriracha version that I have featured before. I decided to leave some of the spice out of this one and season it with garlic and smoked paprika instead. or my second sauce, I prefer honey-mustard when it is slightly mellowed out and creamy with some mayo in it. My toss-together recipes are below.

Smoked Paprika Aioli 
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes 1/2 Cup)

1/2 cup of your favorite mayonnaise (you can sub in sour cream or yogurt if preferred)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice or to taste
1 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp roasted garlic powder
1 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. 


Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes About 2/3 Cup) 

1/2 cup mayonnaise of choice 
1 Tbsp spicy deli-style mustard
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp yellow mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp honey, or to taste
1 tsp lemon juice

In a small bowl, stir all ingredients together until well mixed. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Notes/Results:  Yeah, I ate a half-bag of the waffle fries for dinner and wished I'd made the entire bag! ;-) They went down too easily dipped in the sauces. The aioli is my favorite as smoked paprika and garlic are two of my favorite ingredients but the honey mustard was tasty too and will make an excellent salad dressing thinned out a bit. I would happily make both sauces 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 "St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets" was provided to me by the author and the publisher, Harper Collins, via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own. 
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Ellie Krieger's Easy Red Bean Tortilla Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

When I look for cheap and healthy food, Ellie Krieger's recipes are always a great place to start. This is the second soup I am trying for her newest cookbook, Whole in One. I love tortilla soup and beans and tomatoes are two inexpensive items always in my pantry. This soup is a good way to use up old tortilla chips or you can bake up your own, using stale tortillas.

I kept this recipe mostly as written, subbing in low-sodium no-chicken broth and fire-roasted tomatoes and a chipotle seasoning blend I like. I also added chopped avocado. Because, well... chopped avocado. ;-)

Red Bean Tortilla Soup 
Slightly Adapted from Whole in One by Ellie Krieger
(Makes 4 Servings)

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped, or to taste
1 1/2 tsps chili powder
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (15-oz) cans low-sodium pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
1 1 /2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 cups crushed tortilla chips
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it has softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapenos, and chili powder and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth, beans, tomatoes with their juices, corn, salt, and black pepper and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in the lime juice. 

To serve, place 1/4 cup of the tortilla chips in each of four bowls. Ladle the soup into the bowls and serve, topped with additional chips and a sprinkling of cilantro. 

The soup will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. 

Nutritional Info: Serving Size 2 1/4 cups: Per serving: Calories 470; Total Fat 15g (Sat 2 g, Mono Fat 7 g Poly Fat 4 g); Protein 17 g;  Carb 70 g; Fiber 14 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 830 mg; Total Sugar 10 g; (Added Sugar 0 g).

Notes/Results: A good simple tortilla soup always hits the spot and this one certainly does. The slightly spicy (you can make it less or more depending on your tastes) lime-spiked broth with the beans, corn, tomatoes and crunchy chips is satisfying and clears out the sinus--good for us recovering from colds. It goes together quickly and easily and uses up pantry ingredients. Next time I'll add (or replace the corn with) hominy because it's my favorite but I will happily make this easy soup again.

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme is Cheap & Healthy!

Let's check the Souper Sundays kitchen this week and see who is here:

Claudia of Honey From Rock shared Pistachio Dusted Cream of Cauliflower Soup inspired by a recently read mystery novel. She says,What especially caught my fancy though, was a Pistachio dusted Cream of Cauliflower soup.  Perfect for our chilly, constantly raining weather.  I swear, the rain hasn't let up here for more than a half hour at a time over the past two weeks. But this soup hit all the stops and I would definitely make it again.  Particularly loved the freshly roasted and ground white pepper in it, and the dusting of toasted pistachios on top.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brought Carnitas Sandwiches she made saying, "Using up the leftover Carnitas I made last week was easy with buns. We had pulled pork sandwiches, Carnitas style. I also prepared homemade mac and cheese. Extra sharp cheese, please."

And Tina also shared this Thai Chicken Noodle Soup saying, "Also last week we tried a new (to us) Thai restaurant in north side Tallahassee. I can tell you we will be back. It was the best Pad Thai Doug ever had and my Chicken Noodle bowl was soupy and delicious."

Kim of Stirring the Pot shared one of her favorites, Mark Bittman's Curried Lentil and Potato Soup saying, "This soup is soul-soothing. I find it so very delicious and comforting. It's thick and hearty, almost creamy, with incredible flavor. I absolutely adore it and have no problems eating the whole batch myself. In fact, it makes for a very tasty lunch at work and keeps very well in the fridge."

Thanks to Claudia, Tina, and Kim for joining me this 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.

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!