Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of Fudge and Jury (& The Bakeshop Mystery Series) by Ellie Alexander, Served with a Mango Chai Latte & Chocolate Truffles

Today's TLC Book Tour stop has us visiting the quaint town of Ashland Oregon, where the local Shakespeare Festival and a family owned bakery are the setting for Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander, the fifth book in the Bakeshop Mystery series. Accompanying my review of this book and the series is a tropical Mango Chai Latte and some decadent Chocolate Truffles from the book.

Publisher's Blurb:

Welcome to Torte–a friendly, small-town family bakery where the pastries are delicious…and, now, suspicious.

It’s almost spring in Ashland, Oregon, and the town is preparing for the Shakespeare and the annual Chocolate Festival. Business is cookin’ at Torte, and the store is expanding as Jules’ team whips up crèpes filled with mascarpone cheese and dark chocolate. Torte stands a chance of being this year’s confectionery belle of the ball! Life couldn’t be sweeter—unless murder taints the batter.

Evan Rowe, of Confections Couture, makes a chocolate fountain that would put Willy Wonka to shame, and his truffles are to die for—literally? Yes, the world-renowned chocolatier has just turned up dead…right after sampling a slice of Jules’ decadent four-layer chocolate cake. Now all eyes are on Jules as she tries to find the mysterious ingredient in her own recipe. Can she sift out the truth before another contestant bites the buttercream?

Series: A Bakeshop Mystery (Book 5)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks (January 3, 2017)

My Review: 

The Series: I love a cozy mystery, especially a foodie cozy mystery so I was excited to jump on the blog tour for Fudge and Jury. But, it drives me crazy to read series books out of order, so when I had the opportunity to review e-book copies of the first four books I was thrilled and I quickly immersed myself in the town of Ashland, Oregon and the delectable goings-on at Torte, the bakeshop owned by the Capshaw family. Juliet Montague Capshaw (she goes by Jules) has been the head pastry chef on a cruise ship since graduating from culinary school. When a betrayal of trust by her husband has Jules headed back to Ashland to think things through, she becomes caught up in helping her widowed mother run Torte and get involved in her first mystery when the newest board member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival turns up dead in Torte's backroom. 

Jules is a likable character, loyal, a bit stubborn, a foodie and talented chef and baker. Supporting her are her mother (Helen), high school boyfriend and cop (Thomas), Thomas's detective boss, the crew at Torte, and her new friend, the OSF director (Lance). Ellie Armstrong sets a fun tone with with the characters, the other townspeople and tourists, and the town of Ashland itself. Growing up in Oregon, I spent time in Ashland and love its quirky charm. The mysteries are not too difficult to solve (typical in cozies) and they are accompanied by plenty of food--not just bakery and pastry items, as well as recipes for some of the dishes highlighted in the book. It makes for both fun and delicious reading. (And of course the titles are perfect!) ;-) If you aren't set on series books being in order like I am, you could certainly start with Fudge and Jury or read them out of order, however I really enjoyed learning Jules's backstory and watching her grow and change over the several months the books are set.   

Fudge and Jury: The fifth book in the series, Fudge and Jury begins in March, when Ashland hosts an annual Chocolate Festival and Jules and team are getting Torte ready to represent. They are also taking time to renovate the bakery and put in the new ovens that will help them keep up with the demand they hope will continue to increase. Jules is creating new chocolate creations and planning on moving into custom wedding cakes, so a good showing at the festival is important. Unfortunately, a famous local chocolatier appears to have a fatal allergic reaction immediately after trying a few bites of Torte's chocolate cake sample and Juliet is plunged into another investigation. 

The only thing better than baked goods are baked goods and chocolate and with the descriptions of the dishes Jules and friends make and eat, you won't want to read Fudge and Jury on an empty stomach. I liked that this mystery had a couple of small twists that I didn't see coming and that kept things interesting. In addition to the recipes and food descriptions, I like the little cooking and baking tips that the author peppers into the story. I consider myself to be fairly knowledgeable about chocolate but I picked up some good tips and ideas. I think Fudge and Jury (and the whole series) does a great job of balancing the food and characters with the mystery plot and keeps everything engaging and entertaining. I am looking forward to the next book, A Crime of Passion Fruit, (another great title) which comes out in June.  


Author Notes: Ellie Alexander writes the bestselling Bakeshop Mystery series for St. Martin’s Press, set in the Shakespearean town of Ashland, Oregon and featuring a romantic, artisan pastry chef, Juliet Montague Capshaw. Ellie is a Pacific Northwest native who spends ample time testing pastry recipes in her home kitchen or at one of the many famed coffeehouses nearby. When she’s not coated in flour, you’ll find her outside exploring hiking trails and trying to burn off calories consumed in the name of research.

Connect with Ellie on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram 

Food Inspiration:

There are so many delicious sounding dishes in these books like bakery treats including chocolate tarts, eclairs, chocolate cake, cookies, chocolate bark, marble fudge, and Torte's Chocolate Pasta with white chocolate sauce, hand-dipped chocolate truffles, snickerdoodles, brownies, buttery scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, sausage rolls, banananut muffins, cheese Danish, peanut butter and jam cookies, and cherry almond shortbread 

On the non-bakery food side there was a squid-ink spaghetti and shrimp dish, a peanut butter and marionberry jam sandwich, rack of lamb, pork belly, meat loaf and smashed garlic mashed potatoes, meatloaf sandwiches, a composed salad, cheese and sausage quiche, gyros, sea scallops sauteed in butter, pancetta and leek soup, beer and cheese soup, and spring salads with lemon grilled chicken, dried cranberries and hazelnuts. And finally for beverages, there coffee drinks including a tropical-flavored latte, a classic double latte with just a dash of brown sugar, a chocolate slushy, Spanish coffees, and a potent martini.  

For my book/food pairing, I definitely wanted chocolate--preferably chocolate truffles so I decided to follow the book's simple recipe for them. I used a good dark bittersweet chocolate and flavored my truffles with a combination of almond and coffee extracts giving them sort of an almond latte-ish vibe. Although the author suggests playing around with flavors and toppings, I kept it simple and rolled my truffles into a European hot chocolate mix, giving the outside a bit of sweetness that was nice. 

Torte's resident barista Andy, is always experimenting with coffee and tea drinks and I was intrigued by his tropical Mango Latte. By intrigued I mean that I wasn't completely sure whether the pairing of the chai spices with the tropical fruit flavors sounded good or not--but I had to try--so I made the latte too. 

Ellie Alexander says, "Andy's tropical chai tea creation made with spicy Oregon Chai will have you dreaming of sunny beaches and warm, blue seas."

Mango Chai Latte
From Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander
(Serves 1)

3 oz chai tea mix (Andy uses Oregon Chai but any black tea blend will work)
1 cup coconut milk
2 Tbsp mango puree
1 tsp fresh pineapple juice

Heat chai and steam coconut milk. Mix the mango puree and pineapple juice in the bottom of your favorite coffee mug. Add steamed coconut milk and stir. Pour in chai tea. Can be served hot or over ice.

Chocolate Truffles with Coffee & Almond
Adapted from Fudge and Jury by Ellie Alexander
(Makes about 30 truffles) 

12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard: Sunset-a bittersweet dark chocolate)
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1 tsp extract (play with flavor combinations--vanilla, orange, coconut, almond, etc.) (I used a mix of almond and coffee extract)
Toppings (play with flavor combinations--toasted coconut, sprinkles, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, etc.) (I kept it simple with European hot chocolate mix)

Melt chocolate on low heat. Slowly whisk in heavy cream. Remove from heat once mixture is completely melted and add extract. Transfer to a glass or plastic bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to cool for two to three hours. 

Use a melon scoop or large spoon to form chocolate into one-inch balls. Roll balls in topping(s). Use your fingers to make sure the entire ball is coated with the topping. Then place in an airtight container. Refrigerate. 

Truffles will keep for up to a week. Be sure to remove them from the refrigerator one hour prior to serving. (Unless you live in a tropical climate--in which case 15-20 minutes is plenty.)

Notes/Results: The truffles were simple, rich and decadent--all important in my book. I just made a half-batch, which made about 15 truffles (probably would have made more without my 'sampling' throughout the process). The hot cocoa mix worked well with the dark chocolate and I liked the simple beauty of the lighter coating with the darker base. The chai latte turned out better than I expected. It is a little sweet for me to drink regularly but the mango and pineapple complemented the spicy chai flavors well. I tried it hot but think I might have to make and chill some as I think I will like it even more as an iced beverage. I would make both of these recipes again. 

Fudge and Jury is my first foodie book entry for the Foodies Read 2017 event. You can check out the January 2017 Foodies Read linkup, hosted by Heather at Based on a True Story, to see what everyone is reading this month.  

I'm also linking this post up to 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 "Fudge & Jury" and the other series books was provided to me by the publisher and 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 15, 2017

Mulligatawny-ish Chowder (Indian Curry Comfort) for Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

Sometimes I have a plan for a specific soup and sometimes that plan veers off into a somewhat different direction. I came across this recipe for a "Warming Breakfast Soup" by Elise Swartwood via MindBodyGreen.com and liked the sound of it. I enjoy savory soups--usually miso or sometimes dal for breakfast and I love Mulligatawny soup with its curry spices. I ended up changing so much of the recipe, it is quite different from the style of the original and I think it is more like a chunky Mulligatawny Chowder. Not that I am complaining--it is delicious.

I wanted to make a big pot of soup to nosh on all week so I increased the amount of veggies and wanting something more substantial, I added red potatoes to the mix. When I realized I only had about 1 1/4 cups dried red lentils in my pantry, I tossed in a can of chickpeas for extra fiber and increased the amount of curry. Between the coconut milk, potatoes and lentils, the soup was nicely thickened and chowder-like. You can see my changes to the recipe in red below.

Mulligatawny-ish Chowder
Adapted from Mulligatawny Soup, MindBodyGreen.com
(Serves 6)

1 tsp coconut oil (1 Tbsp)
1 yellow onion (2 large leeks, chopped)
2 celery stalks (3 celery stalks, chopped)
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves (6 cloves, minced)
2 to 3 centimeters fresh ginger (1 Tbsp grated and peeled ginger)

1/2 cup red lentils (1 cup red lentils)
(4 medium red potatoes, chopped)
3 cups water or broth (6 cups good vegetable broth)
1 Tbsp curry powder (or more if you love the spice) (3 Tbsp good curry powder)
1 tsp cinnamon (2 tsp cinnamon)
1 tsp cumin (3 tsp ground cumin)
1/2 cup coconut milk (1 can light coconut milk)

(1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
sea salt and black pepper to taste

fresh chopped cilantro to garnish (+ chopped celery leaves)
fresh lime juice, optional

Add coconut oil to large soup pot and sauté leeks, garlic, ginger, celery, and carrots about 10 minutes, until until fragrant and softened. 

Add lentils, red potatoes and broth to pot, bring to a boil and simmer and until lentils and potatoes are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Add more water if needed.

Reduce heat to low, and add spices, and chickpeas, along with the coconut milk. Let soup simmer on low for about 10 to 20 minutes so all the flavors blend. Taste and check for seasoning.
Add a squeeze of lime juice if desired and garnish with chopped cilantro and celery leaves.

Notes/Results: This was perfect for me, just a big bowl of flavorful Indian curry in a soup--filling, warming and so good. I like lots of curry flavor, but you could of course adjust the amount you use to suit your tastes. I tend to use a mild curry so it isn't spicy, but if you want extra spice, you can drizzle in some sambal or chili oil. The original recipe was more of a blended soup to sip warm, instead of a cold smoothie for breakfast, but I really enjoyed the chunky, thick chowder-style and the way the lentils melt into the soup to thicken it. I would definitely make this again. 

We have good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Joyce of Kitchen Flavours made Ribolitta and said, "I've made Heidi Swanson's, Ribolitta, a thick Tuscan vegetable stew, in line with my foodgoals for the year, more healthy grains, beans and vegetables, and less of meat. I find that this is quite delicious. The recipe makes quite a lot, so I've made only about a third of the recipe. This stew freezes well. I thawed the frozen leftover, reheat over low heat with a few tablespoons of warm water, and it was just as good."

Simona of Briciole shares Cabbage, Roasted Salmon and Persimmon Salad and said, "During winter months, usually soup is on the table more often than salad. This year, however, I am having an intense relationship with raw cabbage. It's not that I discovered it, but I've been reminded how much I like a salad of finely shredded cabbage, and how much I enjoy playing with it, adding various ingredients and tasting the results. ... Tahini sauce offsets persimmon's sweetness and brings together the rich, oily salmon with the crisp, fresh-tasting cabbage."

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor made Fall River Vegetable Soup and said, "So...comfort food.  I made a vat of soup for lunches during the week.  This is a recipe I had been wanting to prepare.  It had been languishing in my file of recipes to try. Here is the recipe I copied (via the iPhone) from the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.  It gives a bit of background about the area which I found interesting.  I used a bit less wine than called for and it turned out well.'

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches 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 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.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Nigel Slater's Lemon Posset (A 3-Ingredient Lemon Pudding to Swoon Over)

Given my love for all things lemony and for panna cottas and other puddings, Lemon Posset is the best 3-ingredient dessert that I can think of. I make it whenever the craving for lemon (or other citrus--tangerines are lovely in posset too) strikes and I always marvel at how simply and almost magically just a few ingredients come together to make a creamy sweet and tangy treat. 

Posset is a recipe that has been around for centuries (here's a great Guardian post on its history) although previously in the form of a warming drink of milk curdled by alcohol or citrus juice but in modern times it has become a cold pudding of thick, rich cream (which certainly sounds more appealing to me!)

Since we are focused on lemons this week for I Heat Cooking Clubs Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge, I decided to make Nigel Slater's classic Lemon Posset from his book Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard

Slater says, "Whenever I am making this classic dessert, I always wonder if there will be enough--it looks such a small amount in the saucepan. Yet once it is poured into glasses and left to set, you realize that it is so rich and lemony that a small amount is all that is required. Pleasing as it is in unadorned simplicity, I do think it is the perfect accompaniment for raspberries, mulberries, or loganberries. A crisp cookie such as a brandy snap could be useful here too."

A lemon posset for raspberries, mulberries, and the like
From Ripe by Nigel Slater
(Makes 4 small cups or glasses)

heavy cream--2 cups (500 ml)
superfine sugar--3/4 cup (150 g)
lemon juice--5 Tbsp (75ml)

Put the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat so the mixture doesn't boil over and let it bubble enthusiastically for about 3 minutes, stirring regulalrly.

Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and leave to settle. Pour into four small wine glasses or cups and leave to cool. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Notes/Results: Mmm... just Mmm... is about all that is needed to describe this lemony bliss. I love that the lemon is definitely present but not so much that you don't also taste the lovely cream too. Very smooth, light and delicious and a good balance of sweet and tangy. I like to serve it in my favorite espresso cups as the 1/2-cup serving fits well and I like the pale yellow against the bright blue. As Nigel says, you really don't need any accompaniment, but it is definitely great with the fresh raspberries and I also had some leftover lemon wafer cookies that were perfect for dipping into the creamy pudding. I will definitely make this again.

On a side note, under other favorite Nigel Slater lemon desserts, Nigel's Limoncello Syllabub is wonderful. It's more of a fuss than posset but if you like mousse or pillowy clouds of whipped cream goodness, I highly recommend it! 

It's our Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs and the theme is Lemons!--any recipes featuring lemons or other citrus fruit from our current or any of our past IHCC Featured Chefs. You can see what lemony goodness people made by clicking on the picture links on the post. 

I'm also linking this post up to 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


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Tumeric Miso Soup with Tofu and Chunky Veggies for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

Turmeric is known for its health benefits, including curcumin, the main active ingredient which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant. Very important to me as an asthma and allergy sufferer with a pretty bad flare-up this week. So, as well as taking a turmeric supplement, I am making one of my food goals this year to look for plenty of ways to get it into my daily diet. Heidi Swanson's Turmeric Miso Soup from Near & Far is a great way to reap the benefits as it has a healthy dose of black pepper--which helps the body better absorb the curcumin in turmeric, along with veggies, onion, garlic lemon  and miso--which all have beneficial properties of their own. Its warmth and sunny color is also perfect for a dark winter day.

Heidi says, "Turmeric is a powerful health-promoting root used across numerous traditional cultures, and I take notice of how and when it is used in cooking whereever I am. It punctuates different realms of Japanese life, taken by some as a hangover cure and sipped as a tea by others. ... Depending on what sort of soup you're after, you can prepare this either with or without the hearty chunky vegetables. I often serve it over brown rice or noodles to make a one-bowl meal."

Turmeric Miso Soup with Tofu and Chunky Veggies
Adapted from Far & Near by Heidi Swanson
(Serves 4)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped (I used 2 bulbs)
1 large carrot, chopped into 1/2-inch chunks (I used 3 medium carrots)
1 small yellow onion, quartered (I used one medium sweet onion, cut into chunks)
4 garlic cloves, quartered (I used 6 garlic cloves)
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 Tbsp ground turmeric 

6 cups water (I used 8 cups of water + 1 no-salt veggie bouillon cube)
3 Tbsp white miso (I used 4 Tbsp) 

3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt, or to taste
10 oz firm tofu, cubed (I used 12-oz firm tofu, pressed overnight)

minced chives (+ extra fennel fronds), for garnish
lemon wedges to serve
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the fennel, carrot, onion, garlic, and black pepper. Stir until coated, then stir in the turmeric, and immediately after the water. (I added a no-salt veggie bouillon cube here for extra flavor.) Bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender.  Pour the broth through a fine strainer , then return it to the saucepan over low heat.

At this point, choose whether to add the vegetables back to the soup. To make the miso easy to incorporate, stir a splash of the broth into it and whisk well, then add it to the broth. Taste and season with salt--as some miso brands are saltier than others, taste and add the salt to your likingas getting the salt and flavor right is important. Gently stir in the tofu and allow it to heat through, about 2-3 minutes.

Serve the soup in large bowls, garnished with chives (and extra fennel fronds if desired), along with a generous squeeze of lemon.

Notes/Results: This may not seem like the most exciting soup but it is quite complex in its flavor and really delicious. The balance between the sweet carrot and onion, the anise flavor of the fennel, the saltiness of the miso, the zip of the black pepper and brightness of the lemon juice, really mellow out the turmeric and make its slight bitterness pleasant rather than biting. You feel warm and healthy just scooping up the broth and chunks of vegetables and tofu. (Note: I used a local, GMO-free tofu that I really like and press it in my TofuExpress overnight before using to remove the excess water and give it a more chewy and meaty texture.) This soup is quick and easy to put together--I made a few changes--noted in red on the recipe--upping the amount of veggies and adding a salt-free veggie bouillon cube for a little extra flavor. You could make whatever changes you like to adapt it to your taste--changing out the veggies to your preference. My only caution is be careful with the turmeric and its bright yellow stains--don't splash it about while cooking and store it in a glass container. I will definitely make this again. 

I'm linking this soup up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is #FoodGoals week--our week to make any recipe from our current featured chef, Heidi Swanson, that meets our 2017 food goals.

We have good friends in the Souper Sundays kitchen who shared some delicious dishes last week--let's have a look!

Shaheen of Allotment2Kitchen made Creamy Avocado Soup with Tortilla Cheese Topping and said, "Avocado in soup may sound a bit strange, perhaps not to those of you who have been tucking into trendy smoothies made with the Avocados - anyway think Mexican guacamole flavours! This is not a steaming bowl of soup and nor is it a cold soup, its warm, barely warm in fact as it is flashed under the grill for the cheese to melt and then served up immediately. No waiting around."  

Ali of Fix Me a Little Lunch is back with this pretty Blood Orange, Walnut, &  Bitter Greens Salad. She said, "For now, dandelion greens feature prominently in this blood orange, walnut, and bitter greens salad. I found my dandelion greens at Whole Foods.  Many natural grocers carry these greens in the winter.  You can also substitute other bitter greens for this salad – finely chopped chard would be lovely, as would arugula.  I also threw in a few strips of preserved lemon to brighten the salad and to add a bit of salt to cut the bitterness.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared this restaurant Cuban-Style Black Bean Soup she enjoyed on a recent ride. She says, "Another place we have eaten recently is the Habana's Boardwalk Cuban restaurant. I was always on about Gordo's restaurant but lately, they have gone downhill. Habana's in AHmazing. This grilled fish dinner was not expensive and you get fresh seafood, quality ingredients. A good portion of fish with peppers, onions and tomatoes in a wine sauce.  Plus black bean soup and Maduras for only $14.99."

Mahalo to everyone who joined in this week! 

Souper Sundays is back with a new format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches 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 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.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • please mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post.
  • you are welcome to add the wonderful Souper Sundays logo (created by Ivy at Kopiaste) to your post and/or blog (optional).

Have a happy, healthy week!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "Sisters, One, Two, Three" by Nancy Star, Paired with a Recipe for Tangy Lemonade Sorbet

It's my first TLC Book Tour of 2017 as I review Sisters, One Two, Three by Nancy Star and if cold, winter weather has you down, you can conjure up some sun at the beach with this recipe for Tangy Lemonade Sorbet inspired by my reading. 

Publisher's Blurb:

After a tragic accident on Martha’s Vineyard, keeping secrets becomes a way of life for the Tangle family. With memories locked away, the sisters take divergent paths. Callie disappears, Mimi keeps so busy she has no time to think, and Ginger develops a lifelong aversion to risk that threatens the relationships she holds most dear.
When a whispered comment overheard by her rebellious teenage daughter forces Ginger to reveal a long-held family secret, the Tangles’ carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. Upon the death of Glory, the family’s colorful matriarch, and the return of long-estranged Callie, Ginger resolves to return to Martha’s Vineyard and piece together what really happened on that calamitous day when a shadow fell over four sun-kissed siblings playing at the shore. Along with Ginger’s newfound understanding come the keys to reconciliation: with her mother, with her sisters, and with her daughter.
At turns heartbreaking, humorous, and hopeful, Sisters One, Two, Three explores not only the consequences of secrets—even secrets kept out of love—but also the courage it takes to speak the truth, to forgive, and to let go.

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (January 1, 2017)

My Review:

The Tangle family is aptly named in Sisters One, Two, Three as they have quite a tangle of family secrets, before and especially after an accident during a family vacation to Martha's Vineyard in the 1970s. The book takes up decades later. told mainly by Ginger Tangle, the oldest sister, a school nurse, wife and mother of a seventeen-year-old daughter. Ginger is cautious and fearful of something happening--especially to her daughter Julia, who she incessantly smothers with her attentions. Ginger also cares for her mother Glory, stopping by her house nearly everyday, running errands and buying her puzzles. Glory, a former actress in community theater who was a bigger star in her head than real life, is fading with age and having episodes of dementia. Middle sister Mimi is wealthy, married to a doctor, busily runs her family of three boy and a large number of in-laws, and has taken up quilting in her art studio. As for Callie, the youngest Tangle, she has been apart from the family for years, having been at a boarding school and then purportedly joining a cult of some sort, according to Glory. Moving back and forth between present day and the summer of the accident, the Tangles' secrets are slowly but surely uncovered including what really happened on the beach the day they lost their brother. 

I found myself quite caught up in the story and the family drama of the Tangles--there is so much drama and so much angst. It was difficult at first to get a handle on and relate to the characters. After seeing the way she grew up and how she tried to keep things running smoothly as the eldest child with a mother of such mercurial temperament, I could understand where Ginger's worries and caution came from--but she got very annoying at times. Glory was quite a piece of work and a challenge to like at all, based on her actions--especially when the children were growing up. Mimi and especially Callie, we don't get quite as deep a picture of, so they are hard to get to know. As more of the family secrets come to light, I got a better understanding of all of the characters and the reasons behind their actions. There are quite a few twists in the story--some I saw coming, others took me by surprise and by the end, I wanted to spend more time with the Tangle sisters. While not every question I had was answered, I was ultimately satisfied and enjoyed this well-told look at how our families and the experiences we share with them can shape us in different ways and for all of our life. If you like novels that deal with family relationships and drama--especially sisters, you will likely enjoy this one. Although it is her fifth book, Sisters One, Two, Three is the first book I have read by this author, but I doubt it will be my last.


Author Notes: Nancy Star is the author of four previous novels: Carpool Diem, Up Next, Now This, and Buried Lives. Her nonfiction writing has appeared in the New York TimesFamily Circle, Diversion magazine, and on the web. Before embarking on her writing career, Nancy worked for more than a decade as a movie executive in the film business, dividing her time between New York and London. She has two grown daughters and a son-in-law and now lives in New Jersey with her husband.

You can connect with Nancy on her website, Facebook, or Twitter


Food Inspiration:

There was food in Sisters One, Two, Three, although most of it was not too inspiring when it comes to things I wanted to recreate. Glory was not much of a cook with dishes like Miracle Meatloaf, Scooter Pies with a birthday candle, and Tuna Tempter (a casserole of tuna flakes, condensed mushroom soup, and wagon-wheel pasta--which the only way to get down was "douse it with salt, close your eyes and swallow.) There were Salisbury steak TV dinners, Lillian Hellman-style Corn Flakes (which according to Glory meant two teaspoons of sugar in each bowl), hot dogs and buttered corn, and a present-day scary Thanksgiving dinner including deviled eggs with yolks crusted over, limp asparagus, canned gravy and uncooked cranberries and under-cooked turkey-Glory's lack of care and cooking combined with her progressive dementia. Ginger cooked basics like potatoes, chicken, pasta and tomato sauce while Mimi preferred Whole Foods and things like black-eyed peas pate, organic beet-leaf pasta served with grass-fed bison bolognese and goat cheese-oat truffle crepes. At the beach there were clam and fry shacks, lobster rolls, fried shrimp and shrimp on skewers, huckleberries, pizza and ice cream

For my book-inspired dish, I decided to go with a combination of the ice cream that was mentioned several times and mix it up with lemonade, because of a comment from Mimi to Ginger about her worrying, "Why do you always make lemons out of lemonade?" I decided to make my lemons into in lemonade-inspired sorbet (I wanted something dairy-free and tangier than a creamy ice cream after all of the holiday indulgence.

If the weather is mild where you are, this sorbet will compliment it, or if it's cold and you are dreaming of a warm summer, this sorbet will make you feel like sunny days are ahead. I left it a bit tangy and paired it with store-bought lemon wafers.

Tangy Lemonade Sorbet
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 4 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups fine sugar (or more to taste)
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 Tbsp limoncello, optional 
2 Tbsp lemon zest + more for garnish

Prepare your ice cream maker by chilling the bowl/drum for at least 24 hours before making sorbet

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil, cooking and stirring until the sugar completely dissolves (about 1-2 minutes). Remove pan from the heat and allow to it  cool for 10 minutes. Stir in the fresh lemon juice, limoncello and lemon zest and place sorbet mixture into the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours

Pour chilled sorbet mixture into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to manufacturer instructions, usually about 25-30 minutes. When the sorbet has frozen into ice crystals and is pulling away from the sides of the ice cream maker, transfer sorbet to a sturdy storage container, cover tightly, and freeze it until firm and ready to scoop. Serve with a bit of extra lemon zest on top and with lemon cookies. 

Notes/Results: Refreshingly tart and lemony, I like my sorbet on the tangy side to pair with the sweet cookies and this one is a good balance for me but if you like a sweeter sorbet, you can increase the sugar by another 1/4 to 1/2 cup, depending on your tastes.  You can also leave out the limoncello, but it does make it a softer, creamier texture so I like to leave it in. Simple and delicious, I will happily make it again.  

I'm linking this post up to 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 "Sisters, One, Two Three" was provided to me by the publisher and 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.