Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here; A Review of "Write My Name Across the Sky" by Barbara O'Neal Paired with Tangy Creamy Tomato Soup for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Happy Sunday! Today I bring you a slightly delinquent book tour review as a stop for Write My Name Across the Sky by Barbara O'Neal for TLC Book Tours. I have had an insanely busy and hard couple of work weeks and needed the weekend to finish this book, and since I decided that my book-inspired dish was going to be a Tangy Creamy Tomato Soup, I asked if I could pair it with my weekly Souper Sundays post. Thank you Lisa for being so understanding! 


Publisher's Blurb

Life’s beautiful for seventy-something influencer Gloria Rose, in her Upper West Side loft with rooftop garden and scores of Instagram followers–until she gets word that her old flame has been arrested for art theft and forgery, and, knowing her own involvement in his misdeeds decades earlier, decides to flee. But that plan is complicated when the nieces she raised are thrown into crises of their own.

Willow, overshadowed by her notorious singer-songwriter mother, has come home to lick her wounds on the heels of a failed album and yet another disastrous relationship. Sam, prickly and fiercely independent, is on the verge of losing not only her beloved video game company but the man she loves, thanks to her inability to keep her always-simmering anger in check.

With the FBI closing in, Willow’s career in shambles, and Sam’s tribulations reaching a peak, each of the three woman will have to reckon with and reconcile their interwoven traumas, past loves, and the looming consequences that could either destroy their futures or bring them closer than ever.

Hard Cover 366 pages
Lake Union Publishing (August 10, 2021)


My Review:

I have read almost all of Barbara O'Neals books over the years and have reviewed a couple of them for book tours on the blog. She's an author I like for when I want something not too heavy but  still good story telling about life, family drama, romance and second chances and creates great characters that while not always initially likable, having you rooting for them by the end of the book. Write My Name Across the Sky follows these same elements and is set in New York City, which almost is a supporting character itself. Willow Rose is a talented violin player whose first album failed and she was kicked out the Los Angeles house of the man who helped her get the contract. She's returned to New York to house-sit for her Aunt Gloria Rose, once a flight attendant and now a popular Instagram influencer in her 70s. Gloria left her glamorous life flying the globe to care for Willow and her older half-sister, Samantha, when their rock star mother, Billie Rose, died from an overdose when the girls were young. Sam is a video game designer whose company is struggling since her relationship with her business partner and best friend Asher has deteriorated since a fateful weekend at a friend's wedding. Willow and Sam have a fractious relationship as Sam struggles with people and holding in her simmering anger--with Willow being a prime target for her resentment since Sam's father left when of Billie's affair with a drummer resulted in her younger sister's birth. Gloria isn't going on a simple trip though, her involvement in her former lover's art forgery and theft ring is coming to light and so she is planning on fleeing before the FBI catches up with her.

The story is told from each woman's perspective, as each tries to figure out their next steps in life and in love. It was easiest to like Gloria and Willow as Sam, who I believe falls somewhere on the Autism spectrum spends most of the time being disagreeable, however I grew to sympathize and even like her. The romances for the sisters worked, although not at too deep level as there is a lot of story for 366 pages to cover. I loved the NYC setting and all of the art, photography, music, plants, and general creativity woven into the pages. Although the ending was a little predictable, the story was enjoyable and kept me turning the pages. This is a great book to curl up with on a rainy cool day and maybe enjoy with a cup of tea or better yet, a cup of good creamy tomato soup. 

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Author Notes: Barbara O’Neal is the author of twelve novels of women’s fiction, including The Art of Inheriting SecretsHow to Bake a Perfect Life, and The All You Can Dream Buffet. Her award-winning books have been published in more than a dozen countries, including France, England, Poland, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Brazil. She lives in the beautiful city of Colorado Springs with her beloved, a British endurance athlete who vows he’ll never lose his accent.

Connect with Barbara on her websiteblogFacebookTwitter and Instagram

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Food Inspiration: 

Barbara O'Neal's books usually have plenty of food and this one was no exception. Mentions included luncheons at the Russian Tea Room, Panda Express, the smells of meat cooking and baking bread, a Rueben salad sandwich from Bloom's, potato chips, beer, vodka soda with lime, boiled eggs, coffee, pastries, soup, a bowl of deli tomato soup, cake, caviar and blinis, chicken salad, beef stroganoff, steak tartare, olives, steak, Roy Rogers, gin and tonics, milkshakes, peaches, donuts (glazed and chocolate and apple fritters), hummus, oatmeal, martinis, steak au poivre, cocktails, champagne, kofta, mint tea, buttery harcha, tussle tea, ice cream--Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Half Baked, healthy vegetables, apple juice, yogurt, hot tea, chicken soup, bagels, cheese, cream cheese, jam, fish-and-chips, sandwiches, marshmallows, avocado, strawberry ice cream, strawberries from a bowl, fruit, toast, sweet custards, cubed watermelon, steamy chai, a rotisserie chicken made into chicken soup, root beer, banana splits, pickles, chocolate sauce, cinnamon sugar toast, a vegan cheeseburger, French bread with butter, cotton candy, gluten-free blueberry pancakes, tanginess, skewers of chicken shawarma, wine, apple pie, cookies, lemonade, and lemon marmalade.   


For my bookish dish, Willow, a good cook, is huddled over a bowl of tomato soup after returning to New York and identifying the flavors in it, "I'm enjoying the soup which is deep tomato with hints of basil, thickly pureed with plenty of onion and garlic and some spice I can't quite name that gives it an exotic undertone. Sumac, maybe? Lime? Not sure." Since I do the same thing and think about the ingredients when I eat restaurant or take out food, and because I have a big jar of sumac I am always trying to use up, I decided to make a creamy tomato soup and add sumac to it to see what I thought.

For my recipe, I just went for my favorite easy creamy tomato soup--nothing fancy but full of good flavor. I was going to add some lime juice but I think the citrusy tang of the sumac was just plenty on its own and did add a touch of the exotic to the soup. 


Easy Creamy Tomato Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen 
(Serves 4)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
1 Tbsp fresh basil
1 tsp sumac (if you don't have sumac, za'atar would be nice as well)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp celery seed
small pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes & their juices
2 cups non-chicken stock or light vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk or 1 to 1 1/2 cups cream or milk of choice
1 tsp brown sugar
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Saute onions until soft and add the garlic, herbs and spices, and the crushed red pepper flakes, and cook for 1-2 minutes more, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. 


Remove from heat, and (in batches if you don't have a high speed blender), puree in a blender until smooth.  Return soup to the pot, stir in the coconut milk and brown sugar and heat through. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper as needed.


Notes/Results: The sumac makes the soup just a little lemony, tangy and exotic like Willow said, but you can't go wrong with a good basic tomato soup. I like this one for how quickly it goes together and when I don't have fresh basil, I just use dried basil, dried parsley and oregano. If you can't find sumac, try for za'atar as it us usually one of the ingredients in it, or you could just use lime juice to taste. I served mine with a pesto swirl bun picked up fro my local craft/food fair but of course any bread or a grilled cheese sandwich would work well. I would happily make this again. 


Note: A review copy of Write My Name Across the Sky 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

Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here. 



Melynda from Scratch Made Kitchen shares two dishes this week. First, "Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili with Charred Beef is a favorite around here! It is not only delicious but spiced just right, not too hot, and not too boring! Perfect for anytime you want delicious food, made fresh, and served with love..."


Next she shared a pressure cooker stew, saying "Rich with flavors from red wine, bay leaves, and thyme. While Beef Stew from Provence does require a rest in the red wine marinade, feel free to start this dish one day and cook it the next! The orange zest and black olives round out the flavors and compliment each other."


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared her Chicken Frito Casserole/Stew saying, "We had a version of chicken frito casserole but it was more like stew.  Lots of extra broth and tomato juices helped to thin it out. Black beans, red beans, tomatoes and lots of spices helped make this a good dinner and a lunch. Optional toppings of shredded cheese, sour cream and hunks of avocado dressed it up.:


Finally, Radha from The Magic Ingredients for a Wholesome Life from the Heart of My Home brought Fire Roasted Hatch Chili and Corn Soup saying, "This is an amazing soup made with season's fresh Hatch chili and corn. This spicy soup is easy to make though it requires roasting on fire. It is worh the effort. This soup will be loved by everyone. The sweet corn, lime juice, and creamy cheese balance the heat of the chili, thereby making it very delicious one!"


Thanks to Tina, Radha, and Melynda 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.
  • 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, September 12, 2021

6 Favorite Corn Chowders to Hold on to Summer for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

The end of summer is approaching, if not seen through the weather, at least seen on the calendar pages. Chowder, especially corn chowder is a great way to hold on to summer, while welcoming the fall. 

Here are 6 great corn chowders to enjoy. I have countless chowders and corn chowders on the blog so I whittled down the list by choosing ones by our I Heart Cooking Clubs featured chefs and keeping them vegetarian. 

I added hominy to Mark Bittman's Basic Corn Chowder and it was a great addition to the texture of this simple classic: 


Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Chowder with Spiced Butter is elevated with the sexy spiced butter:





Another great Mark Bittman recipe is this hearty Corn-and-Cheddar Chowder:



Jacques Pépin's Corn and Hominy Chowder is quick, colorful and tasty:


Finally Donna Hay's Cauliflower and Corn Chowder is unique and delicious:


All of these corn chowders were simple and delicious and will help you extend that summer vibe so I am linking this post up at IHCC's Holding On To Summer post.


Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here. 


Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared this pretty and refreshing Fresh Corn and Blueberry Salad. She says, "Got corn on the cob? Talk about an unusual yet tasty salad! Sweet corn and sweet blueberries mix beautifully in this colorful summer salad. ... It is simple to make, gluten-free, oil-free, parve, and vegan."


Tina of Squirrel Head Manor brings a Hummus Sandwich this week saying, "I am a big fan of hummus so I thought, why not make a sandwich with it.  This is a spinach artichoke and sun dried tomato blend. ... Spread this on toast with sliced tomatoes. A fast and healthy lunch alternative."


And Kim of Stirring the Pot shared Curtis Stone's Favorite (& Healthy) Potato Salad saying, "When you pour the broth over the potatoes and stir, the potatoes become flavorful and creamy all on their own. This means it is only necessary to use a very small amount of mayo. I have to say, I was really impressed with this method and couldn't believe how creamy and "classic" this potato salad looked and tasted."


Thanks to Judee, 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.
  • 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, September 5, 2021

Five Favorite Greek Soups for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

I have had the workweek and weekend from hell and so Sunday finds me laying about and not in the kitchen. Because I Heart Cooking Clubs' theme this week is Go Greek!, I am going to bring you five favorite Greek Soups from our IHCC Featured Chefs.

Tahinosoupa (Tahini Soup) from Tessa Kiros is a classic from the Cycladic Islands


Tessa's Soupy Bakes Chickpeas aren't technically a soup, but they are soupy so I am counting them. 


Jamie Oliver takes his Greek Salad and whirls it in the blender for this Greek Salad Gazpacho, excellent on hot days.


I have featured Ruth Reichl's Avegolemono Soup a couple of times all ready, but it's a classic.  


And Mark Bittman's blender-frothed Avgolemono Soup is an easy way to enjoy this favorite. I made mine with pearled couscous instead of orzo. 


You can't go wrong with any of these, or check out Tina from Squirrel Head Manor's Greek Lentil Soup from Tessa Kiros which I don't know how I have escaped making but will remedy soon.

Linking up with IHCC and the Go Greek theme this week. 


Now let's check into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here. 


Melynda of Scratch Made Food shares another 3 dishes this week, starting with her BBQ Chicken Salad for Sandwiches. She says, "This is a delicious sandwich! BBQ Chicken Salad is crunchy, not too sweet, and delicious between a couple of slices of bread, or open-face style. Be sure to add some bread and butter pickle slices and a few black olives, on the side!"

Her second dish is Moroccan Carrot Salad which she says is a "another delicious non-lettuce salad to enjoy. With good quality organic carrots available year-round making this salad is so easy! Feel free to adjust the spices listed to satisfy your own tastes."

Finally she shares her Green Bean Soup, saying that it "might sound unusual, but...it is easy to make, delicious, and light! Also perfect for the warm autumn days ahead as well as the cold winter on the way. This delicious recipe uses green beans from your own garden, or from the local Farmers Market!"

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shares two dishes this week, first up a tasty Side Salad of "Vine ripe tomatoes, sliced green onions, red onions, lettuce, cucumber and fresh corn. A bit of salt and pepper and your preferred dressing."

And the Lentil Soup from Tessa Kiros, saying, "From Food from Many Greek Kitchens I made a lentil soup chock with carrots, garlic and onions. The longer it simmers the thicker it will get. A bit of flour can help with that too."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog shared Leek, Chickpea, and Spinach Noodle Soup, saying "Noodle soup is one of my favorites, and I love it in this healthy combination with leeks, carrots, spinach and chickpeas. The soup is simple, flavorful, and nourishing. It feels cozy on a cool night and can satisfy as a meal in a bowl for lunch. 

Thanks to Judee, Tina and Melynda 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.
  • 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, September 3, 2021

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Deer Season" by Erin Flanagan, Served with Fudgy Frosted Brownies

Happy Aloha Friday! I am excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Deer Season by Erin Flanagan. Accompanying my review is a recipe for Fudgy Frosted Brownies. 


Publisher's Blurb:

It’s the opening weekend of deer season in Gunthrum, Nebraska, in 1985, and Alma Costagan’s intellectually disabled farmhand, Hal Bullard, has gone hunting with some of the locals, leaving her in a huff. That same weekend, a teenage girl goes missing, and Hal returns with a flimsy story about the blood in his truck and a dent near the headlight. When the situation escalates from that of a missing girl to something more sinister, Alma and her husband are forced to confront what Hal might be capable of, as rumors fly and townspeople see Hal’s violent past in a new light.

A drama about the complicated relationships connecting the residents of a small-town farming community, Deer Season explores troubling questions about how far people will go to safeguard the ones they love and what it means to be a family.

Publisher: NEBRASKA (September 1, 2021)
Paperback: 320 pages

My Review:

Deer Season quietly crept up on me and I found myself engaged from beginning to end in this literary mystery set in a small Nebraska community in the 1980s. Character driven with characters, who while not always likable, feel real and will stay with me. Clyle and Alma Costagan are childless, and have become family for Hal, their intellectually challenged farmhand and they look out for him, even as he is approaching 30. They aren't happy when he goes on a deer hunting trip with a couple of locals and when he comes back early saying he shot a deer, and with a dented truck with bloodstains, they think the hardest thing to do will be to smooth over the issues with his hunting permit and help him clean up. Unfortunately a teenage girl, Peggy Ahern, is missing and soon the community is suspicious of Hal, and Alma and Clyle do their best to defend him while having their own thoughts and worries about what Hal is capable of. 

The story is told by partially by Alma, a hard woman to like and considered by most to be an outsider since Clyle brought her back from the city when his mother died. The other chapters are told by Milo Ahern, Peggy's 12-year-old brother, wise beyond his years, and my favorite character in the book. I enjoyed the 1985 Nebraska setting and the cast of small town characters that make up Gunthrum. The mystery is solid and slow and steady tension is built to the end, but it is the relationships and the the meaning of family and loyalty that are the standouts. One of my favorites for the year so far, Erin Flanagan is a talent, and I'm going to look up her short story collections to read more from her. 

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Author Notes: Erin Flanagan is a professor at Wright State University. She is the author of two short story collections, The Usual Mistakes (Nebraska, 2005) and It’s Not Going to Kill You, and Other Stories (Bison Books, 2013).

You can Connect with Erin on her website or Twitter






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Food Inspiration:

I am a little bummed because there is plenty of food in Deer Season and I highlighted it in my Kindle e-book copy but then it reset and I lost all my notes. :-( Very sad! From memory, mentions included coffee, peanut butter toast, ham and eggs, pancakes, spaghetti, poached eggs, sausage, Oreos, potato salad, sugar cookies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, venison, cinnamon rolls, lasagna, fish sticks, meatloaf, baked pork chops, macaroni and cheese, potatoes, salad with Dorothy Lynch (a brand of salad dressing), Runzas (a pocket sandwich) and crinkle cut fries, venison and beer. I am sure there was more but that's a least a sample. 


For my bookish dish I decided to go with brownies. There's a mention in the book about Peggy, the missing girl, would sneak into the pan of brownies and cut a quarter of an inch off from the cuts already made and keep doing it over and over, thinking no one would notice but her mother did. Mainly, I was craving chocolate and brownies! ;-) I don't make brownies (or even bake) very often but when I do, I like this recipe from the Joy the Baker Cookbook that I first made years ago for a cookbook spotlight event. 


Chocolate Fudge Brownies with Frosting
Adapted from Joy The Baker Cookbook
(Makes one 8-inch (or one 11-x-7) pan)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease and flour an 8-inch-square baking dish and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

Bring about 2 inches of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. In a medium, heatproof bowl, add butter and unsweetened chocolate. Place the bowl over, but not touching, the simmering water and allow to melt. Stir to incorporate. Once melted, remove the bowl from the simmering pot. Whisk in brown and granulated sugars. Whisk in eggs, yolk, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture, all at once, to the chocolate mixture. Fold together with a spatula until well incorporated. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center of the brownie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool completely before frosting.

Frost when cooled. Brownies last, well wrapped, at room temp for up to 5 days.

Note: Joy the Baker has an amazing buttercream frosting (here) that I would have made but it calls for Ovaltine in it which neither I or my store had. I looked online and ended up with this recipe from TaraTeaspoon.com (here) that I think is both easy and delicious. You could also leave these fudgy brownies unfrosted, but why not just go all the way?! ;-)


Notes/Results: These brownies are so chocolatey and fudgy and I love a fudgy brownie! With the layer of frosting they are especially decadent and I am going to need to give them away because I have already eaten two since this afternoon. I put them in the freezer, both because I like slightly frozen brownies, and also to get them out of my sight. Although Joy the Baker's frosting is suburb, I would happily make these brownies and this brownie frosting 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 this week's post. 

Note: A review copy of Deer Season 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