The Lost Family by Jenna Blum #TheLostFamilySupperClub

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I am honored to have been invited to the Lost Family Virtual Supper Club hosted at the Book Club Cookbook site.

This is the first time I have participated with a virtual supper party and I’m thrilled to see some other food bloggers I know on the guest list.   Jenna Blum is a new author for me and I can say, after diving into this page-turner, I am now hungry for the menus included as well as Blum’s other publications.

Jenna describes her book this way: “The Lost Family is a novel about a German-Jewish Auschwitz survivor named Peter Rashkin, who emigrates to New York, starts a restaurant, and falls in love—only to find his new American family haunted by the wife and daughters he lost during the war.

The story starts in the 1960’s and spans roughly 30 years. It’s about love, loss, understanding and forgiveness.  Peter Rashkin, the handsome owner and chef at Masha’s restaurant is the star of the story.  He is a man haunted by his past, torn between the ghosts of his old family and his new family.  While the other story lines focus more on June and Elspeth’s point of view Peter is indeed the main character. There is wonderful imagery in this novel, you feel like you are sitting in on the conversations.

There are so many passages that feature food, drink and menus that I can’t list them all. Well, I could but then I may not post prior to this fabulous book being released on June 5, 2018 – so let me just say there is plenty of culinary inspiration.

A cold gin martini with a few Queen olives will start me off here.  No recipe needed.

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I loved this particular passage:

In every time of trouble in his life, large or small, Peter had gravitated to the kitchen. During his childhood, in flight from his father’s bullying or his mother’s disdain, Peter had sought the large square room in the back of the house where Hilde let him stir soup, roll dough and – most excitingly, and provided he held the knife just as she showed him – chop vegetables. During his teens Peter’s sole act of rebellion had been to apply for a job as Adlon commis instead of clerking in the family law firm.”

“Food is essentially the same. Julienning carrots or chiffonading basil was the same in Skokie or Berlin. A rutabaga was a rutabaga. Vegetables, meat and technique had no language. The kitchen, any kitchen, was Peter’s home.” (pp. 134-135)

I thought about Peter as he chopped vegetables and herbs, as rolled dough to make bread, losing himself in the kitchen environment.  Relaxing and creating.  Personally I find making bread therapeutic.  I love the process of making bread, the slow kneading of the dough and creation of something  everyone loves to see gracing the table. Hot, fresh bread. Yes.

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Herbed Bubble Bread

3 – 3 ½ c flour
2 T sugar
1.5 t salt
1.25 oz yeast (1 pkg)
1 ¼ c milk
2 T vegetable oil
1 egg
1/4 c melted butter or margarine
2 T Parmesan
1 T sesame seeds
1 teaspoon each of garlic salt, paprika, parsley, rosemary &  thyme

Lightly grease a 2 quart deep round casserole. In a large bowl combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast.

In small saucepan heat milk and vegetable oil until very warm (120 -130 F).  Add egg and warm liquid to flour mixture. With electric mixer beat 3 minutes at medium speed.

With wooden spoon, stir in remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Turn dough out onto lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 1-2 minutes.

Place dough in warm greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, 45 minutes.

Punch down dough. Pinch off walnut-size balls of dough and dip in melted butter. Place in prepared casserole forming one layer.  Combine cheese, seeds, garlic salt, paprika, and herbs. Sprinkle half over layer of bubbles.

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Make a second layer of buttered bubbles; pour remaining butter over bubbles, sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture.  Cover and let rise in warm place, free from draft, until the “bubbles” almost reach top of casserole, 30 – 45 minutes.

Just before rising time is up, preheat oven to 400 F. Bake 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes; loosen from pan with spatula and remove. Serve warm.

A labor of love

This book will be released on June 5, 2018. Many thanks for this advanced reader’s copy!  Please check out what others have brought to the party.

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More Info Here!
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I am sharing this with Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking Series and Heather for the June Foodies Read.

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*Disclosure: I  received an advance reading copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum, the Book Club Cookbook and Harper Collins so I was able to participate with the  #TheLostFamilySupperClub party.

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Ernest Shackleton

shackletonOne thing that attracted me to this movie was it is a true story about  Sir Ernest Shackleton.  In 1914 he set off on an Antarctic expedition, something he probably shouldn’t have survived but he did.  But not only did he make that epic journey, he kept his entire crew alive after their ship was destroyed in ice.  The worst possible conditions anyone could conjure and they survived.  Barely.

The lead role was played by Kenneth Branagh. Most recently I have watched him in Murder on the Orient Express and of course I am fond of his role in the Harry Potter series.

It’s a total of almost 4 hours and I believe this could’ve been cut short if they had spent less time focusing on his fundraising and more time on the actual journey. They was a bit about his wife and his mistress, as well as conversations those women had, which I thought had no place in film. You could’ve replace that bit and told us more about what happened at the end. While it’s an amazing story it seemed at the very end they had to hurry to wrap it up.

I just read that Tom Hardy will reprise the role of Shackleton, read that HERE. So far any movie I’ve seen Tom Hardy has been a hit with us.  OK, the exception would be the movie This Means War with Chris Pine.  Hardy will be amazing in this role.

Again they could’ve spent more time telling us what happened to Shackleton‘s men, his other explorations and how he had ended up having a heart attack.  Also I would ahve liked to know more about the crew of the Endurance rather than wasting time with some of the fund raising and the scenes with his mistress.

If you’re in the mood for a true story about an epic journey to explore Antarctica then I would suggest this film. I think there are other versions but our library happened to acquire this one.  It was made in 2002.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Thursday’s Children by Nicci French {Book 4 in the Frieda Klein series}

thursdayThursday’s Children is book #4 in the Frieda Klein series. This one moved slowly.  I’m glad it wasn’t my first acquaintance with Frieda Klein as I may have put the series on the back burner.  So, having read five books in this eight book series, I will still say the Sunday book is still by far the best.

Looking at the positives first, I will say I learned more about our elusive main character in this book than any of the others. It dragged a bit when she went back to her childhood home of Braxton and I think the story line could have been abbreviated.

I like how her friends gather to bring her nice meals, the support they show her, the wine, the mystery aspects of the story and the English setting.  Both London and the little rural town of Braxton.

My favorite supporting character is still Josef.  Hoping to see more of him in the next few books.  I felt very sorry for Frieda’s boyfriend and thought she was too cold with him.  Don’t want to reveal spoilers but I will be adding my thoughts on Goodreads where I can hide the spoilers.  I had it narrowed down to two characters as the main perpetrator but have to say I was actually surprised who the baddie turned out to be.

Side note on an unrelated documentary:   The musical group Thursday’s Children was focused on in the book, however, Thursday’s Children was also a documentary  about the Royal School for the Deaf in Margate, Kent.  It won an  Academy Award for the Best Documentary Short of 1954. The subject deals with hearing-handicapped children.  They learn what words are through exercises and games, practicing lip-reading and finally speech. Richard Burton was the narrator.

It doesn’t appear the name of the fictional band has any relation to the documentary.  There isn’t a mention or connection in the novel.

Food mentioned

Hot buttered tea cakes
Avocado, arugula, sun –dried tomatoes and hummus on focaccia bread.
A sandwich of goat cheese, tomato and salad leaves.
Butternut squash soup with rolls
Garlic- mushroom soup and eggplant and red pepper flan.
Oysters, scallops with bacon and risotto.

“Reuben cooked only four or five dishes and he served them in rotation.  Frieda had eaten them all, over and over again.  There was chili con carne, lasagna, baked potatoes with sour cream and grated cheese.  Tonight it was pasta with the pesto he bought from the local deli.”

“There was a bowl of thick red soup with dumplings, there was something wrapped in cabbage, large sausages, pickled fish, beetroot salad, chopped potatoes and unfamiliar kind of little mushroom, a huge wheel of bread, small pastries, a whole duck, pancakes………..”

Representative meal is a risotto with wild rice, herbs and bay scallops.  A glass of Chardonnay is a great pairing here.

risotto

Linking up with:

Heather for the May 2018 Foodies Read

Joy’s British Isles Friday

Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking Series

Murder on the Orient Express {Meh}

We watched this recently and didn’t find it remarkable.  I wish the other characters had more time to develop. Branagh didn’t work for me as Hercule Poirot. Loved him as Gilderoy Lockhart in Harry Potter but Poirot wasn’t a good role for him. (in my humble opinion)

gilderoy-lockhart

It’s amazing you can gather such acting talents as Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz (they managed to dowdy her up!), Derek Jacobi, Michelle Pfeiffer (LadyHawk 🙂 and Olivia Colman and it doesn’t grab you.  ( I loved Colman’s character Ellie in Broadchurch, just FYI)

Maybe that’s just me but…this movie was one I looked forward to but found a bit dull. I have a British series called Peaky Blinders at the library so I will give that a go next week.  So far the big winner for British shows has been Taboo with Tom Hardy.  Let’s see how The Peaky Blinders work for us.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen

shepherd

I have had a fondness for stories set in Yorkshire and have read all the James Herriot books.  We are such big fans that we named our son Tristan after one of the characters.  When I discovered another Yorkshire author named Amanda Owen I knew I was in for a treat.

First I followed Amanda, aka The Yorkshire Shepherdess, on Twitter.   The photos of the Yorkshire countryside, the sheep, cows, horses, chickens and of course Amanda, her husband Clive and their 9 children are beautiful. Her handle is @Amandaowen8 if you want to take a look.

All children are up at 6:00 a.m. and eat on the go, all have chores they do, automatically working as a team.  Even the 7 year old goes out to gather wood and brings it to start a fire in the black range.  No fire means cold baths. Yikes!

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I have thoroughly enjoyed reading these 12 chapters broken down by each month’s events.  Here is a great article from The Guardian and one from Country and Townhouse if you want to read more.  If you enjoyed James Herriot then this will be your cuppa of tea.  Fresh bread, cakes and stews are always on the menu so I thought I would share two freshly baked loaves I made this week.

Bread

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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British Movie Nights #BriFri

We’ve been enjoying some British movies lately so I thought I’d give the roundup for Joy’s British Isles Friday.

Taboo is a series recommended by a friend in Wales.  Of course it takes a while for these shows to arrive in the U.S. and without streaming ability, I patiently wait for our excellent library to acquire the DVDs.  This show stars Tom Hardy and he is excellent in the character of James Delaney.

“James Delaney, believed dead, returns to London to attend the funeral of his father, Horace. Other than owning a small part of the west coast of North America, Horace has left nothing of value. The land, Nootka Sound,  is in dispute between Great Britain and the United States, who are at war. The East India Company had an agreement to buy the land from Zilpha Geary, Delaney’s half-sister, but Delaney knows the war is coming to an end, greatly increasing the value of the land, and scorns their offer.”

I read a description calling the show a “slow burn” and that is so true.  There is action but it’s a slow build up and lots of intrigue.  Very dark production.

The Full Monty – what can I say?  It’s a fun romp with lots of music, an off-beat comedy where you can see Robert Carlyle and Mark Addy in their youth. Definitely a wine night.

The Darkest Hour was one we’d looked forward to since seeing a preview.  Can you believe that was Gary Oldman?  I read it took 4 hours to apply the makeup and “fat” so he looked the part.  The speeches were well played out, such a vivid portrayal of Churchhill.

dark1

I looked up some of the events, such as that train ride with the “common folk” of London, to see about accuracy.  Yes, liberties were taken but I thoroughly enjoyed the film and recommend it for history buffs.  Good acting here.

That’s it for our “BriFri post about movies.  I am finishing up The Yorkshire Shepherdess by Amanda Owen and will have book talk next Friday.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Waiting on Wednesday by Nicci French

waiting Waiting on Wednesday is book 3 in the Frieda Klein series. There were quite a few things that weren’t believable and yes, you do need to suspend disbelief when you are reading a novel but….Frieda is coming off as unbalanced in this book. She did suffer horrific attack and injuries in the previous book so I can somewhat sympathize with some of the actions she takes.
The story starts off with the murder of Ruth Lennox. Ruth is a wife and mother of three and by all outward appearances, she’s perfect. I’m not talking about the physical attributes, rather her very organized life, devoted to her family and no little secrets.

Except yes! She has a big fat secret and once revealed, the plot takes off in multiple directions. Two of her children will figure prominently, opening up to other subplots.

One of the things that bothered me was the side story about a missing girl. It had zero to do with the Lennox murder or investigation. An offhand story relayed to Frieda had her tracking the girl named Lila, all on her own. Now introduce a newspaper reporter who had been trying to find a link between several missing young women and he and Frieda combine forces, sharing information. So, no link to the Lennox murder but a huge story on its own.

It weaves together at the end. I want to discuss some things that weren’t resolved but it will spoil the book for any who plan to read it. Goodreads has a feature to hide spoilers so I will discuss there when I post my review. I’m hoping the DCI Malcolm Kaarlson’s story will develop more as well as his detective Yvette Long. Would love to know their backstory and where they are heading.

For the record, Hal Bradshaw, the psychologist working with the police, is unbearably smug and it wouldn’t hurt me to see him written out. Hopefully with shame and discredit somehow. Frieda’s nice Chloe can be a distraction but I see we need that sometimes, so you can see Frieda’s caring side. Notice I didn’t say warm side. Ha!
I like Josef very much and also the gruff DCI Kaarlson.

Hoping this is a miniseries one day.  Who would you want as Frieda Klein, for anyone who has read this series?  Maybe Anne Hathaway for her dark features or Nazanin Boniadi, a Persian-British actress.

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Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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