I love summer reading. The season gives us an excuse to slow down, take things in, relax and enjoy the warmer weather. My literary choices, come summer, seem to take on my more carefree attitude. I like to read books that lend themselves to joy, love and frivolity (winter months require psychological suspense and serial killers, but I don't want to scare you away!).
One of the perks of working in a public library is having access to the return cart. What better place to see what people are reading than in the assortment of books being brought back? An added bonus is being able to chat with the patrons about their returns and gain insight to the hits and misses.
Recently I came across this book, The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline. The cover caught my attention (I know, I know!) and I had to read the inside flap....
"Angela Russo is thirty-three years old and single, stuck in a job she doesn't love and a life that seems, somehow, to have just happened. Though she inherited a flair for Italian cooking from her grandmother, she never has the time; for the past six months, her oven has held only sweaters. Tacked to her office bulletin board is a picture torn from a magazine of a cottage on the coast of Maine, a reminder to Angela that there are other ways to live, even if she can't seem to figure them out.
One day at work, Angela clicks on a tiny advertisement in the corner of her computer screen--"Do Soul-mates Exist?""--and finds herself at a dating website, where she stumbles upon "MaineCatch," a thirty-five-year-old sailing instructor with ice-blue eyes. To her great surprise, she strikes up a dizzying correspondence with MaineCatch--yet as her online relationship progresses, life in the real world takes a nosedive. Interpreting this confluence of events as a sign, Angela impulsively decides to risk it all and move to Maine.
But things don't work out quite as she expected. Far from everything familiar, and with little to return to, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up, moving into a tiny cottage and finding work at a local coffee shop. To make friends and make ends meet, she leads a cooking class, slowly discovering the pleasures and secrets of her new small community, and--perhaps--a way to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.
The Way Life Should Be is about the search for the right relationship and the right life, the difficulty of finding true love, and the yearning for the home that food represents. Laced with recipes and humor, wisdom and wit, it is at once a clear-eyed portrait of Maine, a compassionate look at modern life and love, and a compelling work of literary fiction that explores the gulf between the way life is and the way we want it to be.
*excerpt from Chapters/Indigo.ca
The author had me at "for the past six months, her oven has held only sweaters." That, plus the fact that the novel included recipes at the back, well it was a given that this one was coming home with me in my book bag. It was a delightful read, one that I'm sure many of you would enjoy. The recipes come alive with the narrative and you'll soon be drawn in by the characters and the magnificent Maine setting.
Of course I had to try out some of the recipes that were included in the back of this book The Maine Blueberry Muffins were delectable! With hopes that the author doesn't mind, I've included the recipe below. Give it a try, then grab yourself a copy of the book. Once you have it you'll have access to other great recipes such as Torta al Limone, Simple Baked Ziti and Nonna's Banana Bread. A good read with mouthwatering recipes included... what more could you ask for? I hope you enjoy this novel as much as I did. Happy reading!
You will need:
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus 1 tablespoon extra for the blueberries
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup blueberries
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. and line a muffin tin with pretty paper liners
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and the sugar until creamy
- Add the milk and egg
- In a smaller bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture, mixing until moist
- Add the cinnamon and lemon zest
- In a separate bowl, toss blueberries with 1 tablespoon of flour (this will prevent all of the blueberries from sinking to the bottom of your muffins)
- Fold blueberries into the batter, do not over mix
- Scoop batter into lined muffin tins evenly
- Bake for 20 minutes or until springy to the touch