The newest book by author Hannah Tunnicliffe is going to tug at your heartstrings and your stomach – quite literally. Part novel, part cookbook, this is a good example of how a book can crossover into several genres. I’ve been noticing this trend for a season or two now. I like the result. Why can’t an author spin their tale and weave in some good recipes at the same time to pepper the plot? Done right, this sort of storytelling is engaging, unexpected and charming. It is not quite near enough to be a “cook book” — yet it definitely is a cook’s book — one that will stir your heartstrings, ignite your imagination and have you in the kitchen for tea and Banana Bread (Recipe p. 194).
Season of Salt & Honey is the journey of Francesca (Frankie) Caputo through life, love and loss. After the death of her fiancé, Frankie needs time and space to work through feelings – both hidden in the farthest reaches of her mind and the ones on the surface bubbling over in every breath she makes. She takes refuge in her finance’s timeworn forest cabin in the soothing Washington forest to sort herself out. Her path to recovery is filled with quirky neighbors, comfort food, and a painful self-awareness that is going to take twists and turns you won’t see coming. Kleenex is recommended. Just sayin’.
Season of Salt & Honey is an easy read. It is also one of those stories that stays on your mind a while after you finish reading it. I experienced a strange duel sense of melancholy and joyfulness after finishing the book. The author gives us a glimpse of what personal salvation looks like, but she does not finish the story line. I wonder if this is a two-part novel? I, for one, would welcome that.
Caution: Before reading this book, identify a local Italian deli to run to. You’ll need to pick up a few items for your kitchen pantry as you will definitely crave warm, soothing Italian comfort food and an espresso or two as you read through the book. Peruse the recipes before you read the book. Your time away from the book, can be well spent in the kitchen. Or, if you have a book club, assign each member a recipe and share as you discuss. There are also discussion questions and an author interview in the back to guide your book club time.
This book was reviewed by both myself and Adrianne Morrison. Sometimes I enjoy the give and take of friends reviewing books from different perspectives. The review above was a summary of our two interpretations. I took the hard cover version, Adrianne took the kindle format. Both were easy to work through, meaning not all cookbooks translate into a good read on Kindle, but this one was fine. We both felt that the book should have had photos of the recipes. We also thought it would make a good gift or book club selection.
Adrianne choose the following recipe for you saying, “Family and friends who enjoy cordials will love this home-made treat that you prepare just for them. This cordial takes time to cure so make in the spring for wintertime hostess and holiday gifting. In fact, wouldn’t it be fun to gift the book with the cordial?”
Rosolio alle Erbe
Herb Cordial (Liqueur)
A sweet after-dinner liqueur that was originally made using rose petals but is now made with a variety of ingredients and flavors, including lemons, berries, and oranges. Rosolio improves as it ages, so drink after storing for approximately two to nine months. Makes about 3 quarts
25 fresh lemon verbena leaves
20 fresh bay leaves
4 fresh mint leaves
3 whole cloves
A 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 large strip of lemon zest
1 liter vodka
5 1/ 2 cups sugar
5 cups of water
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Here is my choice of recipe from the book. Several times throughout the book, this bread is served. We first encounter it on page 185 when Frankie shares, “I take a bite of the bread. It tastes of banana and cinnamon and walnuts, and the toasting has given it a crust. The center is warm and cakey.”
Perfect for an afternoon snack; serve in slices either plain or brushed with butter and grilled in the oven.
6 ounces walnuts
3 large ripe bananas
11/4 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup whole milk
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons
Page 19 baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9½ x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 minutes. Remove, roughly chop, and set aside. (Leave the oven on.)
In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Beat in the brown sugar and eggs until combined. Slowly stir in the oil. Then stir in the milk, followed by the salt, stirring as you go. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture gradually to the banana-milk mixture. Stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the walnuts.
Scrape the batter into the loaf pan and bake until a skewer or knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
May be wrapped in foil and kept for up to 5 days or frozen for several weeks.
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