Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tasty Tuesday-Golden Curry Soup and Honeycakes

This is the first time I've ever given two recipes to one book.  I love it when food plays a role in books and Witch Song by Amber Argyle inspired two recipes, Golden Curry Soup and Honeycakes.

Brusenna is shunned in her hometown and when she begins her journey away from home she indulges in a few honeycakes. These simple but occasional treats show how Brusenna has been denied the pleasures of a normal childhood. "She saved the honeycakes for last, savoring every tiny bite.  At first, the honey was strong and sweet, but it also dissolved earliest. When it did, she was left with the medly of citrus and nuts" (p.44). Is your mouth watering yet?  Read on. 

In her journey, Brusenna visits many exotic places, including an extravagant Tarten household where bowls of a spicy, golden soup are waiting on the table for her. Brusenna isn't sure if she likes the soup and that same idea is reflected in her reaction to the strange people and places she encounters. "Raising the bowl, she took another tentative taste. If she sipped the spiciness was bearable. But when she stopped, her mouth burned" (p. 182).

Golden Curry Soup is spicy, but not too hot. Easy to prepare, the soup combines eastern flavors with western convenience. Honeycakes complement Golden Curry Soup with its citrisy sweetness. 

Golden Curry Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup carrots
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
15 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 stalk lemon grass*
4 lime leaves*
3 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup coconut milk*
1 cup cooked rice
handful of cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup roasted red peppers
fresh limes

In a medium saucepan cook carrots, onion and garlic over medium heat until tender. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, lemongrass, lime leaves, curry powder and ginger.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat. Remove the lemongrass and lime leaves. Blend soup in a blender with the coconut milk, rice, cilantro and red peppers.  Squeeze lime juice over each bowl before serving.  Serve with Honeycakes. 
*If you don't have lemon grass and lime leaves on hand, omit them.  Substitute milk for coconut milk if desired.


1 batch of Raised by Magic Quick Rolls

6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup honey
1 large orange rind, grated
cinnamon, to taste
chopped walnuts, optional

Roll the dough into a large rectangle. Combine butter, honey and orange rind.  Using a pastry brush, apply half the glaze evenly over the dough, reserving the other half for a glaze.  Sprinkle with cinnamon and nuts if desired.  Roll the dough as you would for cinnamon rolls.  Using dental floss or a piece of string, loop underneath the roll and cross over the top to cut even cakes from the large roll.  Place on a cookie sheet and let rise for 30 minutes or until double the size.  Cook for 8 minutes in a preheated 375 degrees. Brush with reserved glaze.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

The world is changing. Once, Witch Song controlled everything from the winds to the shifting of the seasons-but not anymore. All the Witches are gone, taken captive by a traitor. All but Brusenna. As the echo of their songs fade, the traitor grows stronger. Now she is coming for Brusenna. Her guardian has sworn to protect her, but even he can't stop the Dark Witch. Somehow, Brusenna has to succeed where every other Witch has failed. Find the traitor. Fight her. Defeat her. Because if Brusenna doesn't, there won't be anything left to save.

Food to eat while reading:  Golden Curry Soup and Honeycakes 

The cover of The Witch Song is lovely.  The girl's golden eyes and blushing lips draw me in the fact that dead branches are blooming near her mystical crescent-moon necklace is enough to get me to open the book. 

I have read books before that have a magic system based in music (my own WIP for instance), and Argyle brings a fresh new take on it.  The poetic songs that Brusenna uses to cast her spells are well written and carry the story forward. 

Argyle is a talented new writer.  She brings to life distinct characters with easily flowing text.  The places and adventures she wove on the page were easy for me to imagine.  From a lagoon to a witch's forest, from a ship to a pool-sized bathing house, I felt transported away (and isn't that why we read?). Witch Song is peopled with many races and social classes, even a frog-like creature named Pogg whose race is reportedly responsible for the many rumors of mer-people. 

The romance in Witch Song is satisfying and I wanted so badly for Senna and Joshen to come together.  I was confused near the beginning when Senna sends Joshen away and the book dragged a little there for me. I didn't understand if they were apart for a few months or a few years (that could be a mistake in the ARC I received as well).  I felt like the novel was more about Senna's journey than it was about her love interest and so I was surprised when the very ending dealt more with her and Joshen than with the conclusion of her  character arc.  I do have to say that if there is a sequel, I could understand that more. 

Espen makes a scary villainess. There were times when I though all was lost.  The author brings in the real antagonist near the end of the story and I just can't bring myself to care about or fear her.  If she had been introduced earlier in the story I think I would have been more open to her character. 

I love it when books include food.  I went a little crazy this time and created two recipes for this book.  Enjoy!

Verdict:  The Witch Song is a fresh world that is easy to get lost in.  Poetic and immersing. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tasty Tuesday-Golden Chocolate Nuggets and Thousand Year Fudge

Today I have a special treat for you--a double recipe!  I finished The Hourglass Door Trilogy by Lisa Mangum and I can't resist assigning a (easy to make) chocolate treat to each of the books.

So, along with the recipe for the first book in the series, I give you a trio of fine chocolates to accompany a fine trilogy!

The Hourglass Door-Time Stopping Chocolate Truffles
The Golden Spiral-Golden Chocolate Nuggets
The Forgotten Locket-Thousand Year Fudge


Golden Chocolate Nuggets

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup graham crackers, finely crushed
8 oz powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 12 oz bags semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix peanut butter, cracker crumb, powdered sugar and butter. Form into one inch balls and flatten into patties.  Melt chocolate chips in a microwave bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until melted. Pour a small amount of chocolate into the bottom of a mini candy cup. Place peanut butter patty inside the cup and top with chocolate. Allow to cool on the counter. Makes 4 dozen.

Thousand Year Fudge

1 12 oz can evaporated milk
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter (not margarine)
10 oz chocolate bars, broken in chunks
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
13 oz jar marshmallow creme

Cook milk, sugar and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir constantly for five minutes.  Remove from heat and add chocolate bar, chocolate chips, and marshmallow creme. Stir until smooth.  Pour into a prepared cookie sheet. Makes 4 dozen small pieces.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Golden Spiral and The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum


The Forgotten Locket came out in May 2011 and I realized that although I had read and loved The Golden Spiral, I had neglected posting a review of it here.  I hope you won't mind if I post a double whammy and add another yummy chocolate recipe to match the Time-Stopping Chocolate Truffles that go so nicely with The Hourglass Door (the first in the series).

Food to eat while reading:    Golden Chocolate Nuggets and Thousand Year Fudge(come back soon for the Tasty Tuesday recipe).

Read my interview with author Lisa Mangum here.

The Hourglass Door series is one of my all time favorites (no pun intended).  The combination of time travel and clean, sweet romance is right up my alley.

I continued on Abby and Dante's journey in The Golden Spiral. As in The Hourglass Door, I enjoyed the time travel and its parallels to how our choices affect our futures. New elements, such as Valerie's insanity and the surprise help that Abby gets (no spoilers here) deepen the backdrop of the story. 

The parallels and imagery wrought by the scenes in which Abby learns to develop photography film were intriguing.  I love how Mangum draws the film developing process to point toward bringing Dante "back into the light" and "fixing" what has been undone. I was very glad to see where the author went with Natalie. 

Abby is faced with some heart wrenching situations in this book and it made me look at my own WIP and ask how I can introduce loss and dilemma into my own stories.  She continues to be a strong character who does what has to be done.  

The romance fell a bit flat for me, compared with the first book, but I think it is due to the fact that it is a middle book.  

The Forgotten Locket was a fitting and satisfying end to this fresh and intriguing trilogy. 

Although not always unpredictable, the twists and turns were enjoyable and I kept reading just to see what would come next. 

I love the themes of sacrifice and what both Abby and Dante willingly gave up in order to be together. 

I was surprised by and enjoyed the unexpected attraction of one of the characters in the third book, and I wish the author would have spent more time with that portion.  

It amazes me how Mangum can delve into Abby's character and describe so cleanly how she is feeling. The imagery in the book is never forced and helps push the emotional journey forward.

I had a harder time relating to Abby in this third book.  I think it's because she is so far removed from where she was in high school.  I missed the anchor or her real life.

Zo makes a great bad guy--I loath him and his determination to make everyone as miserable as he.  

Verdict: The Hourglass Door series is a zipping ride through time and love that will keep you reading until time slips away from you. 

Interview Lisa Mangum

I am pleased to host Lisa Mangum, author of The Hourglass Door Trilogy.

Read my reviews of her books here and here.
An article I wrote for the Syracuse Islander can be found here.

Lisa Mangum has loved and worked with books ever since elementary school, when she volunteered at the school library during recess. Her first paying job was shelving books at the Sandy Library. She worked for five years at Waldenbooks while she attended the University of Utah, graduating with honors with a degree in English. An avid reader of all genres, she has worked in the publishing department for Deseret Book since 1997. Besides books, Lisa loves movies, sunsets, spending time with her family, trips to Disneyland, and vanilla ice cream topped with fresh raspberries. She lives in Taylorsville with her husband, Tracy.

What are your emotions now that the trilogy is finished and in stores?

I’m really feeling a mix of joy and sadness now that the trilogy is finished. Writing The Forgotten Locket was the most difficult of the three books to write, and it really stretched me as an author to make that book all that I wanted it to be. When I finished it, I was, “Yay, I’m done!” followed closely by, “Wait—I’m done?” I’d spent years thinking about and writing about and dreaming about Abby and Dante—I couldn’t quite believe I was done. That I wasn’t going to wake up in the morning and go play in that story anymore. Now that the book is available and I’ve started receiving feedback from readers, I’m overjoyed that the response has been so positive.

What do you hope readers will take away from the trilogy?

Two things, really. One, I hope readers can appreciate Abby’s example of being a strong, independent person. A person who makes decisions that matter. Decisions that change things. Because, really, when you think about it, all of our decisions should matter. Our decisions should change the world around us—or the world inside of us—and, I hope, make that world a more beautiful place to live. The other thing I hope readers take away from the series is a desire to write their own story. I’ve heard from several readers who have been inspired to start writing, or to pick it up again, and I think that is wonderful! One reason why I started writing in the first place was because I had been inspired by my favorite authors, so to now be a part of that process—however small it might be—is an honor.

Did the trilogy end as you had envisioned it at the beginning of the series? Were there surprises?
Yes and no. From the beginning I knew the story would have a “happily ever after” ending, but there were certainly a lot of surprises along the way. Zo, in particular, did not want to play by the outline I had drafted, and his character arc ended up being very different than what I had planned. Even Abby and Dante had some specific things they wanted to do in the book that I had not planned on. That’s part of what makes writing so much fun—when you can relinquish control to the character and see what happens next

What next?  Do you have plans for future books?

I do. Up next, I want to work on a stand-alone, contemporary YA novel about Sam and Sara. The story will cover just a single day—the first day they meet. I’m interested in doing a lot of deep character work as well as lots of dialogue. They’re all ready chattering in my ear about the story; I just need to find the time to write it all down.

What do you like to eat while reading/writing?

Oh, I don’t eat while I’m reading or writing. Food just gets in the way, and I don’t want crumbs to fall in my laptop. But I love to celebrate a good writing day with a delicious steak for dinner and perhaps some chocolate for dessert.

Thanks Lisa!

I'd love to know, (please comment below) what authors have inspired you?