Sometimes it is nice to appreciate the simple deliciousness that is cinnamon. It always makes me feel warmer somehow.
Perhaps that is why I have already posted recipes on cinnamon buns. I’ve chased the perfect cinnamon raisin bread for years. I love cinnamon shortbread. But this recipe really takes the cake. Or bread, I guess.
I think it is also known as friendship bread (not to be confused with Amish friendship bread). This may be because anyone who tries this bread will want to be your friend so they can have the recipe. Or because it makes two loaves and grown-ups share things.
Jo Baker’s newest novel, Longbourn, is neither a sequel or prequel to the beloved Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Rather, it is designed to provide another side to the narrative, allowing the reader to experience the lives of the servants in the Bennet household. The story follows Sarah, the housemaid, primarily and the changes downstairs brought on by the arrival of a new manservant.
While Baker’s writing mimics that of Austen and there are several links to the characters of Pride and Prejudice, Baker’s work is clearly a modern piece. It deals with many issues (homosexuality, racism, and women’s rights to name a few) which were largely ignored in Austen’s works. Bringing light to all of this issues in such a brief work seems more like a statement rather than something which contributes to the quality of the narrative.
The novel starts of strongly and fairly predictably, mirroring Sarah’s reactions to the new manservant with Elizabeth’s initial impressions of Mr. Darcy. From there, Baker quickly loses the Austen quality and the book becomes more like a summer paperback than a tome of great literature.
Available from Knopf, $16.00
They keep saying that spring is right around the corner. The only reason I believe anyone is because I am starting to find spring vegetables. The first of the asparagus. Tiny, baby lettuces. Sweet peas and miniscule radishes.
And that makes me want tempura. I love tempura-ed vegetables. Normally, I indulge in winter vegetables: onions, cauliflower, sweet potato, dense hearty vegetables. But tempura should be light and I like it with lighter vegetables too.
Book of the Month: Longbourn by Jo Baker
I have no pictures for you. Not at all. I’m really sorry but they were eaten too fast.
Longbourn is much akin to works by Jane Austin in that the food is described in very little detail. There is a lot of ham and tea consumed. That is about it.
I got to thinking about what servants would be eating during this period. Bread. Cheese? I doubt there was that much meat. It would probably be leftover bits from the family’s meal. And how do we make leftover bits of anything taste better? We put them in a cute hand pie!
In this case, it could be called a Cornish pasty but I took some serious liberties here. I chopped up some baked potatoes, carrots, onion, and leftover stew. This was all sautéed with copious amounts of Worcester sauce and some tomato paste. Wrapped up in darling little hand pies and into the mouths of hungry friends.
This will give you an idea of how tasty they look….
Cornish Pasty by Flickr user Mike_fleming
Normally, hot bread is my choice of accompaniment for a hearty stew or creamy soup. When I can’t get to the store, I turn to biscuits or quick breads. I have no tradition with biscuits so I will serve them with anything. I’ve even been known to serve popovers with stews as well. I like that they can come together in a few minutes and can make even canned soup or leftover stew exciting again.
Family legend says that when I was a toddler, my parents and I went up to Nova Scotia. While there, I took a serious liking to clam chowder. Apparently, I ate it at every meal for the remainder of our time there. It has been my favorite ever since.
I do not hold any love for its traitorous, not at all tasty cousin, Manhattan Clam Chowder. It doesn’t deserve the name. There have been some times that I have been fooled. I would order what was clearly labeled as “Clam Chowder” and would be given a bowl on tomato-nonsense. Now I specify that it should be New England.
It’s amazing how much more interesting food becomes when you wrap it up in a crust. Apples are always delicious. Add a crust and it becomes an icon of American cuisine!
In this case, I had a large butternut squash and little else in the fridge which was remotely interesting. Since serving roasted butternut squash chunks would probably not go over well as an entrée, I set about making it more “meal-like.” You see, I often have a problem getting all the parts of a meal together. Maybe I make an awesome roasted chicken and have to serve it with salad and stale bread. Or I make fresh pasta and used jarred sauce. Pot pies solve that problem beautifully. You can even use store-bought puff pastry to cut down the time.