The Literature Café

Great books and yummy food!

Book Review Tuesday

The Bird Sisters Review

Twiss and Milly live in Spring Green, Wisconsin in the same house that they grew up in and have become the “old ladies that tend to injured birds”.  However, they are so much more than that.  Rasmussen brings us these elderly sisters story of love, sacrifice, loss and commitment using memories.  It is very authentic in depicting how fast life changes because of one moment or accident. birdsisters

This novel was pretty good and entertaining.  There were many things that I liked about it.  Rasmussen has a gift for description of setting and details that at times feel as if you are reading poetry.  “So with each snarl of thunder and each flash of lightning, each realization that her father wasn’t coming back for her, she stuck to the safety of hating her mother…” (Rasmussen).

The character development is excellent, since you reminisce on your childhood and how funny and fun things seemed at that time.  Told almost entirely using flashbacks, the use of elder characters is fresh since it deviates from the current and I believe it deals with an often forgotten community.    It has been a long time since I have read a novel where the main characters are elderly women filled with wisdom and naiveté at the same time.  Filled with drama, sentiment and relatable themes, I believe that many will enjoy this novel.

From the very beginning of The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen, I started craving biscuits with jam and, later on, cakes that are mentioned in the novel.  This novel is the perfect example for what I want The Literature Café to be: if you read this novel, why not do it while eating biscuits with jam?

Exactly, you can! So, here is my recipe for biscuits that I hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Cinnamon Biscuits

CinnamonBiscuits2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 ½ tablespoons of granulated sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of salt

3 tablespoons of chilled butter (or margarine), cut into small pieces

¾ cup of low-fat milk (or whole)

½ cup of sifted powdered sugar

2 teaspoons of low-fat milk

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

  • Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender (or 2 knives) until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add ¾ cup of milk, stirring until moist.
  • Turn dough into a floured surface and knead 4 to 5 times.  Roll dough to ½ inch thickness and cut with 2 ½ inch biscuit cutter.  Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
  • While biscuits bake, combine powdered sugar with rest of milk; stir well with whisk.  Remove biscuits from oven and drizzle glaze over hot biscuits.
  • Enjoy alone or slice them in half and spread the jam of your choice!  I like Smuckers Strawberry jam!

 

Let me know how these turned out for you!

P.S. Besides the biscuits recipe given here, there is another recipe for this book to come.

Have you read anything where the main character is a senior citizen? Did you enjoy the biscuits? Let me know.

Book Review Tuesday

To Kill a Mockingbird Reviewto-kill-a-mocking-bird-first-edition

A few weeks ago I promised myself that I would finish and post this review.  I was a bit nervous (how to do it justice?) and some time constraints. It is such a splendid book, though!  So, here it is now my official review of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Told in the female voice of a child, To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of two children coming of age, forcefully at times, in a Depression stricken southern town of Maycomb, Alabama.  Scout and her brother Jem are force to come to terms and deal with very adult situations like racism, rape, revenge, poverty and social status.  Scout also as a young girl has to deal with the meaning of being a girl and the behavior of a proper lady. The conflict is simple a black man is accused of raping white woman and Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s father, has taken on the case to defend the accused man called Tom Robinson. 

However, it is also what happens in between this trial that is really the magnificence of this story.  Scout and Jem really come to their own conclusion on these events and try to have a “normal” childhood.  The reader can almost feel like he or she is there playing along with Scout and Jem. We can reminisce too on our childhood memories and how easy the world and its problems seemed.  Harper takes us on good and bad adventures through the eyes of this child and I believe that it is a good technique to tell this particular story.  If the story were told through Atticus’ eyes or Tom’s the magic and strength would probably be missed.

This is truly an American classic, not just because of the subject manner, but because Harper Lee is really what I consider a great author.  If you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

Also, in the novel one of the yummy foods that are mentioned is Poundcake!  You can enjoy reading this novel with a slice of the poundcake from the recipe below and a cup of coffee.

Cream Cheese Poundcake (Yields 1-10 inch bundt pan)creamcheesepoundcake

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese

1 1/2 cups butter

3 cups white sugar

5 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease a 10 inch tube pan.
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add sugar gradually and beat until fluffy.
  • Add eggs two at a time, beating well with each addition. Add the flour all at once and mix in. Add vanilla.
  • Pour into a 10 inch tube pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Check for doneness at 1 hour. A toothpick inserted into center of cake will come out clean.

 

In the chocolate mood…

“Take away a woman’s chocolate, and some say you take away her soul.” Kelly Lamm, Chocolate Café and Coffee House

“They say she needs to go to Chocoholic Anonymous! But why?… she has no intentions of quitting!”*

I will admit that I am a chocoholic!  I am not ashamed of this, but accept that for this week the recipe I am posting does not have anything to do with the books that I have discussed. I just agree with the quotes and feel that chocolate is and will continue being a big part of The Literature Café.  One of my favorite things to eat is brownies and here is my recipe:

Serves about 9 pieces

½ cup of butter or margarine

1 cup of white sugar

½ cup of all-purpose Flour

2 ounce of semisweet chocolate chips

 

1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

bookmark

 

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon of baking powder

3 tablespoons of milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 F. grease an 8 inch square pan.
  • In a large bowl, melt 1 ounce of semisweet chocolate chips and soften margarine.
  • Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa powder.  Beat in flour and baking powder. Then add milk and 1 ounce of chips.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Do not overcook.

Hope you like them! Let me know what you think!

 

P.S.  You could also add walnuts to the brownies. I just can’t since I’m allergic.

Also, I found out that in Hermann, Missouri there is a Chocolate Wine Trail and each winery serves chocolate desserts such as Double Chocolate Cherry Muffins with their wine. YUMM! Another must have experience.

*Quote featured in the bookmark on the photo.

In the New Orleans mood!

I’m in the New Orleans mood because of The Awakening.  So, today The Literature Café will feature its second recipe: Jambalaya.  Here is a recipe that I got when I went to New Orleans and that I’m looking forward to making.  It’s actually from a post card by Cuisine Art New Orleans.DSC04799

Serves 6

 

3 lbs. shrimp

1 lb. smoked sausage

2 Tbs. oil

1 Tbs. butter

1 cup of chopped onions

1 cup of chopped green peppers

½ cup of finely chopped celery

1 16oz. can of tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

¼ cup of fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups of chicken stock

½ cup of green onions, chopped

1 tsp. basil

2 bay leaves

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or  ¼ tsp if you’re like me and enjoy spicy.)

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. chili powder

1 ½ cups of long grain rice

 

  • Peel the shrimp (if needed)
  • Slice the sausage and sauté in the oil and butter over low heat for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic and sauté slowly until the vegetables are tender.
  • Stir in tomatoes, seasoning, rice and stock.
  • Add shrimp bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cover.
  • Simmer for about 25 – 30 minutes or until rice is fluffy.
  • During the last 5 minutes add the green onions and the chopped parsley.

Enjoy!

P.S. Let me know how it turned out.

The Perfect Saturday

A perfect Saturday at The Literature Café starts off with one of our favorite breakfasts: Eggs in a Basket! This is paired with a latte Puerto Rican style or any type of coffee or tea you like. The recipes for these are as follows:

For the Eggs in a Basket:

1-2 slices of bread (your choice of bread, we use sandwich wheat bread oatmeal flavor)

1-2 eggs

Butter or margarine

Cooking spray (butter flavor)

Salt (optional)

 

For latte Puerto Rican style:

4 oz of brewed coffee

Milk (until you reach your desired color)

Sugar to taste

 

eggbasket

  • Cut out a circle in the middle of each slice of bread.
  • Spread butter on each side of the slice.
  • In a medium-high heat set a small or medium frying pan, apply cooking spray and a little bit of butter (optional).
  • When hot, put in a slice of bread and crack an egg right in the circle of the bread.
  • Cook until golden on each side and egg is fully cooked.

Then is just lounging in comfortable chairs and reading to your heart’s content. For me is Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day.

What have you been reading?