{The Forgotten Garden: A Book Review}

I could not put this book down! It was beautifully written, intertwined two of my favorite genres—historical and realistic fiction—and an homage to one of my favorite books from childhood, The Secret Garden. What more could I ask for?

Kate Morton’s The Forgotten Garden follows the story of 3 women, tied together through a mysterious quest to discover their identity. For Nell, this quest is literal. At her engagement party, her father informs her that he found her alone on a ship bound from England when she was a toddler. They searched for her guardian, but when no one came to claim her, they decided to take her as their own. Nell, understandably shaken by this discovery, becomes obsessed with figuring out where her true ancestry lies. Her search leads her to England, a fairy tale writer named Eliza Makepeace, and Eliza’s cousin, Rose Walker. Nell knows her roots lie somewhere with these two women, but her search is halted when her granddaughter, Cassandra, comes to live with her. Cassandra grows up ignorant of Nell’s secret past until Nell dies, and Cassandra discovers that she left her a cottage on the Cornish coast in her will. Cassandra, haunted by her own tragic past, is drawn by Nell’s search and makes it her mission to begin where Nell was forced to leave off.

What follows is a tale of heartache, family secrets, and acceptance as Cassandra strives to unravel the mystery. The story, however, is anything but linear—the reader glimpses all 3 protagonist’s perspectives, life’s events, and tragedies through intertwining storylines and time periods. This unique approach allows the reader to connect with all 3 women in a way that only one perspective would not have allowed and in my opinion, that is one of the novel’s strongest attributes.

I just started reading another of Kate Morton’s novels—The House at Riverton. Stay tuned!


{Egg in a Hole}

Happy Friday friends!

Growing up, an egg in a hole was always one of my favorite weekend breakfasts. There was just something magical to me about the way the egg and the bread became one in the frying process and how the yoke would burst when you dipped it with the sides of the bread. As I came an adult, I was still somewhat baffled by the process. Something that amazing has to be difficult to make, right?

I used to beg Jeff to make me one every weekend, until one day, he got a little annoyed or lazy, and insisted that it was about time I learned to make it myself. And you know what? The process was pretty gosh darn simple.

All you have to do is heat a generous amount of butter in a frying pan (don’t all good meals start out that way?).

Egg in a hole

While the butter heats, you cut a circle in a piece of your favorite bread. You could do this with the opening of a jar, one of those fancy circle cutters, or just with a knife if you can get over the need for a perfect circle.

Egg in a hole

Egg in a hole

Place the bread with a hole in it and the circle piece that got cut out in the frying pan.

Egg in a hole

Crack your egg in the center of the hole.

Egg in a hole

Here comes the neat part. To prevent you from flipping your egg in a hole too early, wait until your little circle piece of bread is sufficiently toasted and browned–this should be perfect timing for flipping the egg (or about 2 minutes/side).

Egg in a hole


Now again, when the other side of the little circle piece is nice and brown–your egg in a hole is done!

Egg in a hole

And now I can make eggs in a hole whenever I want–dangerous knowledge at times!

{Rachael Ray’s Autumn Beef Stew With Apple, Onion and Roasted Garlic}

Beef Stew

Apparently it’s turning into soup week here on the blog! Which totally makes sense because its been so cold and rainy here on the central coast this past week… At least in my mind, I guess, if not in reality.

We actually made this soup, or stew rather, for Christmas dinner and I’ve been meaning to share it with you for awhile now, but I got a little distracted in the process. But there’s no time like the present, I suppose! As you know, I try not to each much meat (although I seem to be getting talked into it more and more these days), but this sounded too good to pass up. As a self-proclaimed soup addict, beef stew used to be one of my favorite things to make/devour, so I guess it wasn’t too much of a stretch to indulge myself. And it was Christmas after all!

The most interesting thing about this beef stew, and what I think makes this soup so special, is that you actually make mashed potatoes and serve the soup along side them for an extra hearty meal (see picture above). It reminded me of being in London again in a dark, wooded bar and ordering bangers and mash smothered in gravy on a cold night.

The recipe itself is by Rachael Ray and was featured on the Dr. Oz show in December.

Check out the recipe on his website:

Beef Stew

Rachael Ray’s Autumn Beef Stew With Apple, Onion and Roasted Garlic Recipe

{Split Pea Soup with Apples}

Pea Soup and Panini

Since the first soup we made out of Anna Thomas’s Love Soup was such a success (albeit a bit labor intensive!), I was excited to try the second soup in the book that caught my eye: “Carol’s Finnish Pea Soup with Apples.” This soup sounded interesting for several reasons. First, the name–who wouldn’t be enticed with title like that? Second, the ingredients: split peas and frozen green peas, dijon mustard, and an apple–I was intrigued!

Learning from my past mistakes, I actually read the entire recipe before starting this time and decided to pre-chop and pre-measure everything before beginning, which, strangely enough, made the entire process a whole lot easier. Funny how that happens. Also, this recipe is much more traditional throw-everything-into-a-pot-and-let-it-simmer kind of soup which helped the process just a bit.

Of course, you’re not getting away that easy: there were a few additional steps required! I was pretty excited about one of them: peeling and coring the apple. Now, you could just do this the boring way and use a peeler and a knife and all. Or you could use one of these.

Apple Corer

Honestly, using my apple corer was probably the main reason I chose to make this recipe. I love it! We used to have them at the preschool I went to and I’ve been in love with them ever since. All you have to do is crank the handle and the machine magically creates a fun peeled and cored spiral apple. Cool, right? The corer is also a great time saver for making apple pies or a fun kid friendly kitchen activity. Or just entertaining to use if you’re a nerd like me. They’re not that expensive either!

Apple Corer

Anyway, when you can peel (cracking myself up here) yourself away from the apple corer, the soup itself is pretty quick and easy to make. See the brown ball-shaped things in the soup? Those would be the coriander seeds you were supposed to toast and then grind. But since I don’t have a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, I just decided to throw them all into the soup which makes for quite the burst of flavor when you bite down on one! Note: I have since ordered a mortar and pestle ;)

Pea Soup

Jeff and I had also received a cast iron griddle and griddle press for Christmas, so we decided to make paninis with fresh homemade foccacia. This is what happens when I have too much time on my hands!

Griddle and Press

Foccacia is one of the easiest breads to make and only requires a short rise–about 1 hour.


For the paninis themselves, we just added whatever we had in the fridge that sounded good: brie, marinated artichoke hearts, marinated red peppers, basil with a good ol’ garlic lemon aioli. A lot like these actually. The griddle press was pretty fun to use too!


Can you tell this meal was all about fun kitchen gadgets?

Pea Soup

Split Pea Soup with Apples

Makes 6-7 servings

Adapted from Anna Thomas’s Love Soup

Print recipe!


1.5 cups dried split peas

2 large carrots, peeled and diced

2 medium stalks celery, diced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

1 large onion, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced

12oz fresh or frozen green peas

1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper


Rinse the split peas and add them to a large pot along with the carrots, celery, thyme, bay leaf along with 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer and cook for about half an hour.

Heat up 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion with a pinch of salt and saute, stirring often, until the onion is aromatic, soft, and light brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Add to the onion to the soup along with the apple and let simmer for another 15 minutes.

At the end of the 15 minutes, add the remaining ingredients: peas, coriander, mustard, cider vinegar, broth, cayenne, and pinch of salt.

Finally, let the soup simmer for another 15 minutes to let the ingredients incorporate fully. Just before serving, stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil (Note: this step makes a huge difference in the flavor, don’t skimp!)

Serve with paninis or bread or whatever, and enjoy!

Total time: 1 hour