Instant Pot Dum Aloo

Dum aloo is one of my favourite Indian dishes. It’s warm and rich, with a perfectly spiced yogurt sauce smothering perfectly cooked potatoes that fall apart on the fork. It is a Kashmiri dish, and originally had browned potatoes cooked in their own steam in a heavy sealed pot. But it can take a long time to prepare, and can be fussy to make.

Enter the Instant Pot. This wonderful device specializes in cooking foods in their own steam, and it so happens that it makes fabulous dum aloo. We found a few recipes and played around. For this version, I used a set of spiced that I particularly loved with the frying and pressure cooking functions of the IP. The result is a little fiddly, but quick and not at all difficult, and absolutely delicious.


Dum Aloo

Makes 4 servings



  • 1 ½ TBSP vegetable oil
  • 700 g baby potatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 2 TBSP white poppy seeds
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp Kashmiri pepper
  • 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
  • 1 TBSP flour
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder


  1. Prick potatoes all over with a toothpick and keep aside.
  2. Press the SAUTE button on the Instant Pot. Once hot, add 1 ½ tablespoon oil to the inner steel insert.
  3. Add the pricked potatoes. Shallow fry for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown and crusty. Remove on a plate lined with a paper towel to get rid of excess oil. Set aside.
  4. In the meantime, whisk yogurt in a bowl. Add the flour, cardamom, coriander, and garam masala. Mix well.
  5. Fry the onion in the oil remaining in the Instant Pot until it is translucent. Add the garlic ginger paste and stir for a minute, then add the following: white poppy seed, cumin seed, Kashmiri pepper. Let it sizzle for about 30 seconds.
  6. Immediately add about ¾ cup of water and salt, then the yogurt mixture, stirring as you pour.
  7. Once the gravy comes to a simmer, add the fried potatoes. Cancel the SAUTE mode.
  8. Close the lid with the vent in the sealing position.
  9. Change the setting to MANUAL MODE or PRESSURE COOK at HIGH for 5 minutes.
  10. When it beeps, manually release the pressure immediately.
  11. Turn on the SAUTE mode again at Low. Let it come to a simmer till the sauce thickens. Turn off.

A Book Review… and a recipe (sort-of): A Suggestion of Scandal

It’s been a while! I’ve been neglecting this poor blog rather badly, and I have a few books I want to talk about, as well as some recipes I want to post.

Let’s start with the book. This delightful tale comes from the pen of Irish author Catherine Kullmann, whom I had the great pleasure of meeting last April when we were in Dublin. (Can you feel the Wanderlust? Aer Lingus keeps taunting me with their ads, and I need to go back! But that’s for another post.) Much of the action in this novel happens during prolonged house parties, where the assorted guests stay for several weeks. Well, during such parties, one must entertain, and entertaining involves food! This is where the recipe will come in – look for a link after the review. But here’s a tempting hint:


Now for the review:

A Suggestion of Scandal by Catherine Kullmann

When I picked up A Suggestion of Scandal, I was expecting another treat from Catherine Kullmann’s pen, and she did not disappoint me. As with her previous novels (and delightful zombie-esque novella), she tackles issues and themes that are less often approached, with the skill and sensitivity and wit that many authors can only aspire to.

In A Suggestion of Scandal, governess Rosa Fancourt is enjoying one final house party with her charge, Chloe Loring, before the girl is handed over to another tutor to prepare her for her coming out the next year. Among those in the party is Chloe’s half-brother, Sir Julian Loring, who has spent much of the last several years attending to his own affairs. Meeting again as not-quite-strangers, Rosa and Sir Julian strike up a tentative friendship, united by their affection for Chloe.  But before long, Rosa is witness to a sight most unsuitable for innocent eyes and vanishes from the estate in a trice, leaving all sorts of rumour and innuendo in her wake.

Not one to doubt his judgment of the governess’ character, Sir Julian refuses to believe these tales and searches for the truth – and Rosa. Chloe, too, desperately misses her friend, and when Sir Julian finds her at last, he convinces her to join him at his grandfather’s estate in an attempt to help recover his young sister’s spirits. But there are others staying at Swanmere, not all of whom appreciate the presence of an impoverished governess and the attention given her by their host, and when a person from Rosa’s past appears without warning, assumptions are made, tainting her with more than just the suggestion of a scandal!

In and amongst these themes of infidelity, jealousy, violence and abuse, however, we have a gentle tale of genuinely likeable main characters. Rosa is no simpering damsel in distress, but an intelligent and self-reliant young woman who is kind and caring and, when needed, can rescue herself without recourse to a knight in shining armour. Sir Julian likewise uses his head and, unlike in so many stories, does not just accept the first unlikely story he hears about her sudden disappearance, but presses for the truth, relying more upon his own experience and the evidence of his eyes than on the tales of others. They are genuine and real, and one can well imagine befriending them both and sitting down to a delightful afternoon of conversation over tea and cakes. As for the “bad guys,” they too are realistic. They have their vices, to be certain, but none is painted as so completely beyond all hope as to be unbelievable. The most vile actions are backed up by very plausible circumstances which make their behaviours, if not acceptable, then at least comprehensible.

Finally the writing – elegant, clear, entertaining. What more need be said? This book is a delight to read, a smart and unusual story, well-told, and definitely worth the time.

Here’s a link to the book on Amazon’s US site. For British readers, replace the .com with; for Canadians, replace it with .ca


As I mentioned, every book I read makes me think of food! I promise to get some info up on those luscious fruit tarts really soon! Check back for a link within a day or two.

Turkish Delight: Revani

Kurt Seyt

When I began thinking about what food to pair with Nermin Bezmen’s fascinating book Kurt Seyt & Shura, my mind went to to different cuisines: Russian and Turkish. Russian, most of the action occurs in Russia, and Turkish, because the hero and author are both Turkish. Further, the story concludes in Turkey, where the main characters find refuge and a home after the traumatic events of the Great War and the Russian Revolution, and the book was originally written in Turkish. I toyed with the idea of blinis or borscht, but that cuisine is not so far removed from what I grew up with, and I wanted to explore. Because, as you probably know, I’ve never met a cuisine I haven’t liked!

Well, this little foray into Turkish cuisine left me wanting seconds. Once I began looking for recipes, I found so many foods I’m itching to try. I nearly made savoury cheese-filled boreks, and indeed, they might be on the menu this week, but I decided on a sweet instead. But what sweet, you ask. Perhaps baklava, that nut-and-honey-drenched ecstasy in phyllo? Or lokum, commonly known as Turkish Delight? Both very tempting, but I have made both before and wanted to learn something new. Eventually I decided to try Revani, because it looked and sounded delicious, and the ingredients are all easy to find in a North American supermarket.


Revani is a light yogurt-based semolina cake, drenched in a sweet citrus-tinged syrup. It has been popular in Turkey since the Ottoman period and is named in honour of the sixteenth-century Turkish poet by that name. There is also evidence that the cake is Sephardi in origin. Similar syrup-soaked cakes are found all around the Mediterranean basin, but I like this version because it is nut-free, which makes my allergies happy.

The recipe I used is based on that of Ozlem Warren, from her website Ozlem’s Turkish Table.  Where I changed it was in the syrup: I added a bit of orange blossom water as the syrup was cooling. I’m not sure how authentic this addition is, but I love orange blossom water and use it whenever I think it will work. It does. Trust me.

A couple of notes:

  1. Use the finest grind of semolina you can find. I found some semolina for pizza at my favourite Italian supermarket down the street.
  2. Let the syrup cool before pouring it over the cake. That means you have to make it ahead and not slurp it all up while the cake is baking. Sorry.

So, without further ado, the recipe:





  • 1-1/2 (300g) cups sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups (375g) water
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 TBSP orange blossom water (optional, but use it anyway)


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 scant cup (200g) sugar
  • 1 cup (170g) fine grain semolina
  • 2 TBSP regular flour
  • 1 cup (250g) plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 TBSP olive oil (I used a combination of extra virgin mixed with some regular veg oil to cut the strong taste)
  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. To make the syrup, bring the water and sugar to a boil, then let simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and simmer 2 more minutes, then add the orange blossom water and let simmer one more minute. Remove from heat and let cool. Do not eat with a spoon. Yet.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C and prepare a pan. The original recipe calls for an 8×10 pan liberally greased with olive oil. I used an 8×8 silicon cake pan that I didn’t grease at all.
  3. In an electric mixer (or with a whisk if you’re feeling energetic), whip the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar is completely incorporated. Then add the semolina, flour, yogurt, baking powder and olive oil. Beat till smooth, and finally add in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla. Pour into the cake pan and bake for about half an hour, until the top is golden and a tester comes out dry, with a few crumbs.
  4. Let the cake cool for about 5 minutes, then slowly spoon the syrup over the cake allowing it to absorb before adding the next drizzle. Some people like to slice the cake in squares or diamonds before pouring on the syrup, as this helps the syrup soak in all through the cake. Keep going until the cake won’t absorb any more syrup. You will probably have gone through most of it. Now you can eat the rest.
  5. Top with finely chopped pistachios and toasted coconut for a traditional Turkish treat, and enjoy with tea or strong coffee.

The cake is amazing fresh and warm, but it keeps very nicely in fridge for a few days.


A Book and a Recipe: Kurt Seyt & Shura



Anyone who has spent time over the last couple of years haunting the historical drama selections on Netflix might have come across the beautiful Turkish offering, Kurt Seyt & Shura. What viewers might not realize is that the television series was based on a series of books by Turkish author Nermin Bezmen. Further, the casual viewer might not know that the books are a fictionalized account of the life of the real Kurt Seyt and the real Shura—and that the author is Kurt Seyt’s granddaughter!

Not having seen the series, I was unsure of what to expect when I began the book. What I found was an intricately researched and beautifully written tale of love and war, passion and betrayal, set in a world that is disintegrating, where commitment to land and lovers is sorely tried by the realities of obligation and the need to survive.

Kurt SeytWithout giving away too much, Kurt Seyt is a cavalry officer in Imperial Russia on the eve of the Russian Revolution. He is from an old and wealthy Turkic family from the Crimea, loyal to the tsar and to tradition. Shura, short for Alexandra, is the beautiful and very young daughter of a Russian nobleman. The two meet at a ball and fall in love. But life is not always that easy. Kurt Seyt has obligations to his country, and his country is at war; furthermore, he has always been admonished by his father to take a wife from among his own people, of his own religion. When the Bolsheviks rise in revolt and their own armies seek to purge the country of the old guard, both find their lives are in danger and must make wrenching and terrible decisions.

This is a love story, and yet it is not, because life is not always that easy. Characters are torn between loyalties and friends turn on friends, while enemies recall past connections. The descriptions are gripping and haunting, and the sense of impending peril, as everything the characters have known is destroyed around them, is visceral. One does not finish this book and just put it down. The tale lingers in the mind.

I have to commend translator Feyza Howell for a superb piece of writing. In reading translated material, it is not always easy to know where full credit belongs. A brilliant work can be destroyed by a poor translation (ask me about Camus’ The Outsider that we had to read in high school!), and I suppose mediocre writing can be elevated by a fabulous translation. In this case, I suspect the original was excellent, and the clear and precise work of the translator merely brought the original Turkish words to life in English.

Kurt Seyt & Shura was originally published in 1982, and was translated into English in 2017.

DSC05081Now… Now for the food, because there has to be food! Our protagonists survived the war and revolution by escaping across the Black Sea to Turkey, where Seyt’s descendants still live. Consequently, I went on a quest for Turkish treats. I thought about baklava, I thought about boreks (layered pastries with thin dough and savoury fillings like cheese or spinach), but then I found this recipe for Revani, a light semolina cake soaked in a citrusy syrup. It’s even more delicious than it sounds. Check out the recipe here.

The Important Stuff

For more information, where to purchase the book, and social media, check these links:


Newsletter sign-up for updates, announcements and exclusive fan events:

Order Kurt Seyt & Shura paperback or Kindle e-book:


Our Facebook page:

Kindle logo

Book Review: The Darcy’s Hope Saga by Ginger Monette

The Darcy’s Hope Saga ~ Ginger Monette

2. Saga cover pngIf you’ve been flitting in and out of the pages of this blog, you will likely remember the reviews I wrote of the two World War I adaptions of Pride and Prejudice: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, and Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey. Now, author Ginger Monette has re-released these two fantastic novels in a single volume, The Darcy’s Hope Saga. While both of the books in this series are complete in and of themselves, the story they tell spans the set to create an epic of love and loss, despair and hope.

These tales bring the reader not only into the horror of the battlefields of the Great War, but also into the world of Downton Abbey. Ms. Monette explains, “It was remarkable to me how little British culture had changed from the Regency Era to the Edwardian Era. Darcy could have dined with Lord Grantham at Downton Abbey with little change in decorum. I was also fascinated at how the war affected everyone’s lives and how wealthy English families offered their lavish homes as hospital facilities during WW1.

The research that went into these novels is evident in the textured world Ms. Monette presents to us. She says, “I devoured nurse-assistant diaries, a soldier’s diary, memoires or two orderlies, books on surgery… and a lot more. Then I watched hours of documentaries about everything from battles, to the food and uniforms of British soldiers.

So much of this history comes through in the novels. High-bred ladies like Elizabeth Bennet did often become nurse-assistants during the war, and the chateau-cum-field hospital is based on a real one. Likewise, Darcy was present at two real events during the war- the Battle of the Somme and the explosion at Messines Ridge. These are but a few examples of the very real incidences that underscore this saga.

4. DH Saga Banner

As a very short recap, Beauty from Ashes is a skillful retelling of Austen’s classic novel: Nurse-assistant Elizabeth Bennet has little time for the cold and wealthy Captain Fitzwilliam Darcy, but when he is assigned to her hospital in Northern France, the two find their hearts are not quite as secure as they thought. However, the course of true love never did run smooth: What of the handsome doctor with whom Elizabeth spends so much of her time? And worse, Darcy is investigating an espionage plot, and Elizabeth is a suspect!

The story continues in Donwell Abbey. Darcy has finally won Elizabeth’s heart, but then she disappears! While still reeling from this news, he leads his men into battle and attempts a desperate and heroic feat to save them, with dire consequences to himself. Gravely injured, he is sent back to England to recover at Donwell Abbey. Here he meets a young nurse who reminds him so much of Elizabeth… but how can he think about loving her when Elizabeth might still be out there, somewhere….?

If you have read the two novels, you know what a treat they are. If you haven’t yet, now is your chance to immerse yourself in this beautiful story.

Food… there always has to be food!

When I began thinking of this lovely set of stories, my mind went immediately to the delights of a traditional English tea. It is hard to think of Edwardian England without visions of bone china tea sets and scrumptious tarts and treats coming to mind. Fortuitously, I recently rediscovered Bakewell tarts. These are delicious tarts with a shortcrust base and a layer of jam beneath an almond filling, topped either with almonds or decorated icing.

I shan’t attempt to recreate a recipe which is done so well by others, so here is a traditional Bakewell Tart recipe to try.

Here’s another recipe that I’ve tried that was yummy enough to be placed on the “make again” list. The pretty top on this is easy to do, but looks spectacular.

More about the Book:

With its stellar reviews, intricate research, cameo appearances by other beloved literary characters, and of course, a happy ending, this is a set not to be missed. The romance is clean and is suitable for ages 13 and up.

You can watch a video trailer here:

The Darcy’s Hope Saga can be purchased at Amazon.

About Ginger Monette:

7. Headshot--Ginger MonetteThe teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she’s hooked—on writing and World War I.

Writing riveting romances inspired by Donwton Abbey and Jane Austen, Ginger’s use of compelling plot, vivid historical detail, and deep point of view has been rewarded by stellar reviews for her recent Darcy’s Hope saga and a grand prize for a WW1 flash fiction piece.

Ginger makes her home in Charlotte, NC, where she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.

You can connect with her at her website at or on Facebook, where she talks about Period Drama, Downton Abbey,  Jane Austen, and the like.

Butterbeer Cookies

Once again, our December has been a flurry of cookie-baking for the gift boxes we put together for friends and colleagues. We made our usual assortment of biscotti, Italian Christmas cookies, ginger snaps and cappuccino cookies, as well as something new: Butterbeer cookies.


They don’t last long

This originated not from a recipe, but rather from an idea. My daughter and I put our heads together and pondered and dreamed and waved our wands, and we created this. Early reactions vary from Amazing to Yum, and included much of the alphabet. They are pretty good!

The only unusual ingredient is the cup of salted caramel chips. These seem to be trendy these days, and I had no problem finding a package by Hershey at pretty much every supermarket I look in.

Happy baking! Bakiamo cookio!

Butterbeer Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1-1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp caramel flavour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 cups flour (I use pastry flour but all-purpose will do fine)
  • 1 cup salted caramel chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

Cream the butter, sugars and eggs in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and caramel extracts, then the baking soda and salt. Carefully mix in the flour (this part can get messy if you start the mixer too quickly), and when it’s all well combined, add the caramel and white chocolate chips. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat your oven to 350F. (I tried a new mini convection oven, and after some experimentation, found that 325F worked best for it; 350F was right for my regular oven).

Form the cookies into balls about 3/4-inch (2 cm) in diameter – about 1 TBSP per cookie.

Arrange them on a baking sheet, lined with parchment or not, according to your preferences.

Bake at 350F (or 325F – see above) for 10 or 11 minutes, till just starting to turn golden.

Save at least some for company.

Recipe (and a book review): Traditional Scones

This last week has been a bit of a book-lover’s paradise. On the one hand, I have been finishing up my review of Alexa Adams’ latest novel, Darcy in Wonderland. This is a delightful mash-up of Pride and Prejudice and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and is suitable for readers (and tea-drinkers) of all ages. Then, on the other hand, I have been enjoying the wonderful company of another author, Sophia Meredith, who was visiting the area for a few days on the way to a family wedding. (I’ve reviewed Ms. Meredith’s books elsewhere in this blog, and I’m most proud to call her a  friend.)


Illustration by Katy Wiedemann

So what is a foodie to do when confronted with Alice in Wonderland and a writer of historical romance in my house? The answer is simple: Bake something. The question of what to bake was easily answered. Alice must go to a tea party, and a tea party must include scones.

Most people here in Canada, at least, associate scones with those large crumbly biscuit-like things that you get at Starbucks to go with your extra-dry venti cappu-something. If that’s what you’re hoping for, sorry. Maybe another time. Those are good, but they’re not what I’m thinking about. I’m thinking about the elegant treats my mother used to make for tea parties back in South Africa. They are smaller and round, topped with butter and jam and blobs of clotted or whipped cream.  While quite suitable to accompany coffee, they are really best served alongside a pot of steaming tea.

Of course, tea is lovely shared with friends, but it’s equally good if sipped quietly while reading a terrific book, or at least reading a great book review. Check out my review of Darcy in Wonderland and see for yourself if you think the book would go well with tea and scones.


I’ve tried so many recipes for scones over the years, but I keep coming back to this one that my mother gave me. I’ve tweaked it slightly (because that’s what I do), but it is almost exactly the one I enjoyed so much as a child. I hope you enjoy these as much I do.


Traditional Tea Scones

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 TBSP granulated sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, quickly mix the dry ingredients till combined, then add in the butter. With your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture. It will begin to resemble course damp sand. It need not be perfect, but don’t leave large and obvious chunks of butter. This takes very little time, so don’t get intimidated.

Add the egg and mix in, and then add the milk. Start with a bit less than what you’ve measured and mix well. You can use a paddle beater for this. Add as much milk as necessary to get a very sticky, but still workable dough. Depending on your climate, you might need to add as much as 3/4 cup of milk in total.

Form the dough into small balls, and space them out on a cookie sheet. A silicon baking sheet or a layer of wax or parchment paper will help them not stick, but it’s not vital. You can make the balls whatever size you like, but I find that 1-1/2 inches in diameter is a good place to start.

Bake at 425F for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be nice and golden on the outside.

Let cool slightly, then cut them in half. Top with a thin layer of butter, a thicker layer of your favourite jam, and a dollop of clotted cream or whipped cream, and enjoy with a cup of tea and a good book.


Illustration by Katy Wiedemann

Book Review (and a recipe): Darcy in Wonderland by Alexa Adams

DSC04386I’m delighted to host a stop on Alexa Adams’ blog tour for her latest novel, Darcy in Wonderland.  Although not a Pride and Prejudice variation, this sweet story introduces us to Jane Austen’s couple some two decades after their marriage, and to their busy family, including the spirited and head-strong Alice.

Now, Alice cannot possibly have her adventures in Wonderland without a tea party of some sort, and a tea party just is not a tea party without scones, so please check out the accompanying post for a recipe for traditional English tea scones, complete with jam and cream. Lady Catherine would insist upon it, as long as you don’t spill your tea on her dress!


Darcy in Wonderland ~ by Alexa Adams

Once again, author Alexa Adams has forged a new path and given us a story that defies the convention of Jane Austen variations and continuations.  From the darkness of The Madness of Mr. Darcy to the twisted chain of events that lead to Becoming Mrs. Norris, she has proven herself as an original author with an eye for the unusual. Now, in a much lighter vein, she has meshed the Darcy family from Jane Austen’s classic Pride and Prejudice with Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to send us topsy-turvy into a delightfully messed up world in which the best-laid plans of (talking) mice and men go quickly awry.

After twenty-some years of marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy have a fine family and a very busy household, for they are in the midst of preparations for the coming-out ball for their eldest daughter, Ellie. But the youngest daughter, Alice, has little time for these boring logistics of preparing food and planning for visitors, because she is too busy wondering about the white rabbit with a pocket watch she has seen running through the garden! Her doting parents put her tales down to her vivid imagination and bid her to pay more attention to her lessons.

SPILT_TEAThen once day, Alice’s enthusiasm gets the better of her and she spills a cup of tea all over Lady Catherine, who is most certainly unimpressed with the turn of events. Consequently, Alice finds herself excluded from a planned visit to the Bingleys. With only her father for company, she once again abandons her lessons to take a walk in the gardens, and spots the White Rabbit once more! With her father in pursuit, she chases this strange creature into the shrubbery, and then into a large rabbit hole. Suddenly the two Darcys find themselves falling into a world that is strange beyond their imaginations.

BOTTLENow we find ourselves in Lewis Carroll’s familiar world of Wonderland, complete with bottles that say “drink me,” cakes that say “eat me,” the mysterious Maryanne – or is it Mary and Anne? – and a house with gloves and a fan somewhere within. We meet the Cheshire Cat, the hookah-smoking caterpillar on the magic mushroom, the Mad Hatter and March Hare at their never-ending tea party, the Duchess with her strange baby, and of course, the King and Queen of Hearts with their peculiar army of playing-card soldiers.  While Darcy is most concerned with finding someone who can direct him back to Pemberley (should he ever grow to the proper size again), Alice is more interested in conversing with the fantastical creatures they meet and finding her way to the garden she has spied through a tiny door. In a crazy mixed-up world where no one has heard of Derbyshire at all, how will the Darcys ever find their way back home?

There are some wonderful characters in this story. Elizabeth is her charming self, although with decades of experience as mistress of Pemberley, she is a much more mature and assured version of Jane Austen’s heroine. Lady Catherine makes a short but important appearance, not having mellowed at all in the intervening years, and other familiar characters are present as well. As well, we meet the various Darcy offspring, including Bennet, a smart and sensitive young man ill at ease with himself in society (sound like anyone else we know?), and a bevy of daughters: Ellie, the debutante, shy Helen and witty Rose, who are both away at school, and Cassandra, who far prefers Sir Walter Scott’s novels to her lessons. And, of course, Alice, who is the star of the show. The interactions between the siblings is beautifully crafted, and for those of us with children, a little too familiar!

You like [school]! You actually like it! Bennet never did, and even if he is odious, he has got some sense. Ellie liked it, but she has hardly any at all, so I made sure you should hate it,” Alice explained.

Thank you so much for the compliment,” Ellie said bitingly.

I thought her assessment rather accurate,” Bennet murmured to her in an undertone…

As well, we spend some time getting reacquainted with Mr. Darcy himself. He appears exactly as one might imagine him, some twenty years older and wiser, with all those years of Elizabeth’s teasing to loosen his stiff demeanour, while never quite losing it. He can still be proper and serious, but now knows how to laugh, both at himself and at others.


But the character who steals the show is little Alice. She is a delight – headstrong and imaginative, with her mother’s impertinence and a sense of wonder that is infectious.  She has no trouble offering her opinions, even when they are not wanted, and is happy to allow her curiosity free reign. While her poor father frets over the bizarre events around him in Wonderland, Alice happily accepts a world in which animals talk and people can grow and shrink with a nibble of food or a sip of some potion. From her first impulsive dash after the White Rabbit to her bewildered participation in the Queen of Hearts’ croquet game, she is never without something to say.



It is just that I always have so very much to say. I really can’t speak quickly enough to get it all out. By the time I finish explaining one thought, five new ones have popped into my head. It can be quite difficult to choose which to share.”

There were a couple of minor areas in which I felt I wanted a bit more from the book. The interactions between the Darcy siblings were lovely, but I’d have loved more between Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam. We see them as parents, but not so much as husband and wife. While it’s not a love story, I still would have loved to have seen just a bit more of the Darcys’ private conversations, to see how they have grown into a mature and devoted couple. I also found the section in Wonderland to follow Carroll’s tale a bit too exactly, although the wink-wink references to Jane Austen’s other novels were lovely little touches, like Easter Eggs for the devoted Jane Austen reader.

Darcy_in_the_TreesAlong with this sweet and light story, Ms. Adams has engaged the talents of her gifted sister Katy Wiedemann for a delightful series of illustrations, as well as for the cover.  These ink drawings add the perfect touch of whimsy and sparkle to the book, and are a treat for the eyes. Check out Ms. Weidemann’s scientific illustrations at

In conclusion, this is a delightful and fun story, suitable for readers of all ages. And don’t forget to enjoy it with a cup of tea and a plate of scones, because Alice must have a tea party. (Just please, whatever you do, don’t spill tea on Lady Catherine!)

Darcy in Wonderland is available here:

You can learn more about the author here:

You can follow the complete blog tour here:

August 5th – Laughing with Lizzie
August 7th – Austenesque Reviews
 VVB32 Reads
August 8th – Just Jane 1813
August 9th – From Pemberley to Milton (Guest Post & Giveaway)
August 10th – From Pemberley to Milton (Review)
August 11th – Austen Authors
August 12th – Sophia Rose’s Blog (Goodreads)
August 13th – Musings from the Yellow Kitchen
August 14th – Diary of an Eccentric
August 15th – More Agreeably Engaged
August 16th – My Jane Austen Book Club
VVB32 Reads
August 17th – Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
August 18th – Babblings of a Bookworm
August 19th – Savvy Verse & Wit
For Love of Austen


Pasta with Mushrooms and Sun-dried Tomatoes

I came across a recipe a few weeks back for a pasta dish with mushrooms and a bunch of other goodies. Some of the extras did not appeal, and some were not part of our diet (bacon – some people love it, but not in this house). Still, the general idea of the recipe was really appealing, and so I started to play.

This version is far simpler than the original, and while I can’t vouch for what the bacon part tasted like, no one who has tried my version has complained at all.

It can be thrown together in a fairly short time, and doesn’t need a whole lot of babysitting, which makes it good for preparing while other things are on the boil.

It can be a main dish or served as a substantial salad, and if you use rice or quinoa pasta and omit the Parmesan, it can be vegan and gluten-free. Enjoy!


getting ready


All ready to serve

Pasta with Mushrooms and Sun-dried Tomatoes

  • ½ lb dried pasta (fusilli or something bite-sized)
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 12 oz mushrooms (your favourite, but Portobello are nice), in medium slices or chunks
  • 1 can (210 – 250 ml) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, thinly slices (keep the oil)
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
  • Handful rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan cheese for the top

In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté till the onion is beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and lower the heat. Continue cooking until the liquid has been released from the mushrooms and has boiled off. Add the sundried tomatoes, rosemary and garlic and cook for another minute. Add salt and/or pepper, to taste.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When it is al dente, drain (keep a half cup of the water) and toss with the oil from the sundried tomatoes. Mix the pasta with the mushrooms in the pan, and add ¼ cup of the reserved water, letting it boil down a bit to combine the flavours. (This might be a good place to add a splash of wine, if that sort of thing appeals to you. Let it boil off.) Add more water if needed. It should not be liquidy, but neither should it be too dry. Adjust seasonings.

Serve warm or at room temperature with Parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top, if desired.

Another Book: Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks

Another book and another recipe! Don’t forget to scroll down after the review itself for a few extras, including a link to a delicious Poppy Seed Babka (yeasted coffee cake) and a raffle for some fun prizes, thanks to the author.


Modern Persuasion by Sara Marks

Once again, I’m delighted to host a stop on a blog tour celebrating the release of a new novel. This time, author Sara Marks has chosen not Pride and Prejudice, but Persuasion as her inspiration. I have to admit that I love Persuasion; it’s probably my favourite of Jane Austen’s novels. I love the very notion of second chances, of being able to right a past wrong. I love the character of a self-made man, who has risen to his fortune not because of a lucky accident of birth, but due to his own actions; a hero who is able to overcome his resentment to examine his heart and strive for what he truly desires. I love the heroine, whose unhappy past teaches her the necessity of self-reliance, and whose sensible and caring nature allows her to see through artifice to finally achieve her happy ending.

With this in mind, I happily dove into Modern Persuasion, excited to see how Ms. Marks re-imagined the story in a modern setting. She has set the novel – most appropriately – in the world of publishing, the action swirling around the frenzied activity of an author’s book tour. The author is Frederick Wentworth, a successful screenwriter and author; the editor-cum-publicist accompanying on the cross-country tour is Emma Shaw, who broke his heart eight years before. Many of our favourite characters are present, including a lovely portrayal of Emma’s father and sisters, and we see how well the self-absorbed Sir Walter Elliot is translated into the twenty-first century.

For the most part, the novel works very well. Ms. Marks’ characters are realistic and fleshed out, while remaining true to Austen’s originals, and the plot about forced reunions and second chances is seamless and unforced. She writes well and smoothly, bringing the details of the world of publishing to life.

Where the novel falters a bit is in small details that don’t quite match up – I liken this to the continuity girl on a movie set taking a nap. A detail here doesn’t quite mesh with a detail there, or a description is countered by another further along in the text. Wentworth’s fabulous letter also disappoints a bit, because it repeats so much of the material of the rest of the book; I understand the author’s vision in creating the letter she does, but for me, this is a case where brevity and intense emotion would have spoken more eloquently than long description.

These quibbles aside, this is a lovely interpretation of Persuasion, and if you’re a fan of the original (and perhaps even more so, if you’re not – YET) you won’t be disappointed by this first publication of an author of whom I hope to read more in the future.

Now… a few extras.

About the author:


Sara Marks

Sara Marks is an author, knitter, Wikipedian, and librarian from Massachusetts. After over 10 years of participating in National Novel Writing Month, she is releasing her first novel, Modern Persuasion, with Illuminated Myth Publishing. When she isn’t writing, she is an academic librarian at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She has a masters degree in library science and another in Communications. She spent 6 years as a member of Toastmasters International where she twice earned the status of Distinguished Toastmaster, the highest status members can achieve. She is one of the local organizers for National Novel Writing Month.

Five Fun Facts about her:

  1. Sara worked as a clown in college.She would go to birthday parties and local events in Miami to paint faces and make balloon animals.
  2. Sara failed out of college before returning hometo find a new path in life.It took her 7.5 years to get her B.A.She is a firm believer in being able to fix your mistakes and getting second chances.
  3. Her dog, Cedric, was named for Cedric Diggory, her favorite character in Harry Potter.In reality, the dog is a Slytherin.
  4. Every year, since 2004, Sara has participated in National Novel Writing Month.She has won every year, except 2005 when she lost by 1,000 words.
  5. Sara has been a Wikipedia editor for over 10 years.

A Recipe!

Much of the novel takes place in New York City, where there are bakeries and edible treats galore! I thought long and hard about what would go well with this story, and nearly decided to find some yummy Chinese dish, relating to a scene in the novel. In the end, after chatting with Ms. Marks, we decided on something that goes well with a book, a cozy corner in which to read, and a cup of tea. In fact, this would go well with Frederick’s favourite – a venti earl grey tea with raw sugar! Emma remembers his order well from their time together so long ago; I bet she often had it with babka from one of the Manhattan bakeries – maybe Moishe’s down south of Delancey, or Orwasher’s in the Upper East Side. (Note – these are not recommendations, although I’m sure they’re great places. My info comes purely from a Google search!)

And so… without further ado, follow this link to the world’s yummiest Poppy Seed Babka.

And, of course, the Giveaways!

Ms. Marks is generously giving away two prizes on this blog tour.

Giveaway 1: An ebook of Modern Persuasion in the format of the winner’s choice! Comment on this post and tell me about one of your second chances, and how that worked out. A second chance at love, an old friendship that you revived, a second chance at a job, or even better luck with a plant the second time around! I won’t judge your tales, but I’ll pick a name randomly by midnight, EST, June 4, 2017.Blog Tour Knicknacks

Giveaway 2: Fredrick’s book tour knick knacks and autographed paperback copy. Since part of the story happens on Fredrick’s book tour, Ms. Marks has selected touristy knick-knacks from each of the cities they visit. The winner will get the entire collection of knick knacks and an autographed paperback copy of the book. This raffle is limited to US participants (sorry, all my non-American readers). To enter, people will need to sign up for Sara Marks’ mailing list, where they will be added to the raffle and will get a short story related to Modern Persuasion: “Mary and the Anti-Feminist”. The raffle opens on the 22nd and ends on June 5th.

You can enter here at the Rafflecopter site, or through Sara Marks’ website.

Modern Persuasion can be purchased at Amazon.