Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky

Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky: A Modern Baker's Guide to Old-Fashioned Desserts
By ~ Karlynn Johnston


Another cookbook review you ask?  Well yes, as you know, if you've been reading my Random Musings blog posts, I've been doing a lot more cooking and baking lately as part of my A New Year New Challenge Experiments.  The month of January was filled with researching and purchasing a number of different cookbooks and Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky was one of those cookbooks.

What is the point in spending money of these various cookbooks without actually reading them?  Yes, I've been actually making my way through the cookbooks I've purchased, reading not only the recipes but the stories provided by the authors.

The reason I purchased this book is solely because of the Flapper Pie recipe.  Prior to stumbling upon this book on Amazon, I have never heard of Karlynn Johnston, her blog The Kitchen Magpie, or her amazing Flapper Pie recipe.  If the only thing I gain from my New Year New Challenge Experiment is the discovery of this Flapper Pie recipe, it will be worth it (note: I've already gained a lot from this experiment, the Flapper Pie is just an extra bonus).

To date I have tried four of the recipes from this book, and all of them have turned out delicious.  Two pie recipes (Flapper and Buttermilk) and two doughnut recipes.  If the rest of the recipes in this book are as good as the first four I've tried, I will have stumbled upon a great find.  Full of Canadian bakes, Flapper Pie and a Blue Prairie Sky is a colourful dessert cookbook with pictures of every bake.  I think that all cookbooks should have pictures of the completed food, don't you?


A Cookbook Review?

So far 2018 has brought about quite a lot of changes in how I’ve been preparing and eating food.  I don’t normally do resolutions, but this year I decided to give myself a challenge every month.  Anyone who knows me, will know this about me; if I decide to do something I’ll do it 100%.  I’m either in or out, there isn’t an in-between.  That is, until I get bored and stop whatever it is that I’ve taken on.  

For one of my challenges coming up in March I will be eating vegetarian for the month.  I was a vegetarian when I was younger, mostly because my mom (Hi Mommy) started to eat vegetarian and it was just easier to follow suit (she was making food for me after all).  So this will not be the first time I’ve eaten vegetarian, but it will be the first time I will be doing it as an adult and preparing all of my own food.

You might be wondering why I’ve written all the above information in the book review section of my website instead of the random musings section of the site where I tend to post my random musing.  Well, I will be writing about my New Year New Challenges Experiment in my random musing posts, but if you would like to follow along daily, check out my Instagram page for all of my postings or you can just follow the hashtag #anynce (A New Year New Challenge Experiment).  If you'd like to join in with my monthly challenge experiment or make up your own monthly challenges, I encourage you to do so, and please feel free to use the #anynce tag too!  Doing new things and challenging yourself is almost more fun and supportive with others joining in.

I am trying my best not to get bored and stop my new food endeavours, and one way I'm doing that is by getting interested in and reading cookbooks.  It took me a little while to decide if I should write a review on a cookbook.  Thoughts like will anyone care?, it’s a cookbook not a novel, does it count? and a few other random thoughts along those same lines kept running through my mind.  I talked with Michael about these thoughts and his response was that I was just being silly.  It was still reading, of course I should write a review he said.  Michael was right of course it is still reading, so without further ado, here is my first “book” review of 2018.


Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes
By: Dana Shultz

Since my vegetarian month is coming up in March, I wanted to get a healthy number of good vegetarian recipes under my belt before then.  I stumbled upon The Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking randomly on Amazon when I was looking up vegetarian cookbooks. I checked out the blog and found a ton of delicious sounding recipes and even tried a modified version of one of them, Garlic and White Wine Pasta with Brussel Sprouts.  Why modified you might ask?, well, I was missing a bunch of the ingredients so I substituted.  The pasta turned out so delicious that I was really curious how the non-modified version would taste. So during my lunch break the next day, I popped down to the local Book Warehouse to see if they had the book, so that I could flip through the pages and see what it looked liked.  Up on the shelf under new, there it was sitting, all shiny and new.  I bought it right then.

When I got The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking home, I immediately started to pour over the pages.  There was a picture for every single recipe!  Let me tell you any future cookbook authors out there, if you don’t include pictures of the recipes you’ve provided in your cookbook, I will quickly put your book down, likely never to pick it up again.  I really want to know what the food I'm trying to cook should look like.  This really helps me know if I'm doing it correctly or not.  I loved the fact that Dana Shultz included pictures of the recipes in her cookbook, especially since vegan food is an entirely new cooking concept for me.

Each recipe is laid out with an ingredient list, cooking time and serving quantity.  Also, most of the recipes could be made in 30 minutes and with under 10 ingredients.  Almost all of the recipes also provided directions to make the meal gluten free.  At the back of the cookbook there is also a nutritional listing guide for the recipes, which is very helpful if you care about that type of thing.

Now normally the word “vegan” on the cover of a cookbook will cause me not to look any further at that book.  I apologize to all the people who maintain a vegan diet, for whatever reasons they have, but I’ve always found the word vegan to be a bit granola for my tastes.  If Shultz used the word vegan on the cover instead of  of her phrasing of “entirely plant based” I would have missed out on a great cookbook.  

Peanut Butter Pad Thai ~ Next time I will add snap peas for a bit more colour.

Peanut Butter Pad Thai ~ Next time I will add snap peas for a bit more colour.

So far I’ve only tried one of the recipes out of The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking, the Peanut Butter Pad Thai.  I followed the recipe almost completely, so it was in fact vegan this time (I left out the green onions because onions are yucky).  I can’t say enough good things about the tofu in this recipe, it was so delicious!  Nice and chewy and with just a little bit of heat.  The pad thai sauce was a little overwhelming in the peanut butter taste, but that fault lays entirely with me and my measurements of peanut butter not with in the recipe.  For someone who usually goes, "that's about the right amount" when cooking I used too much peanut butter (my love of peanut butter took over when measuring it out).  Next time I should actually put in 2 tablespoons of peanut butter instead of my approximation of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, which was likely at least double the requested amount. All of that being said about the pad thai being a little too peanut buttery, it was still delicious!  I just felt that I was missing some of the other flavours that were called for in the recipe, so I think that next time I make this, it will be even more awesome than it was.

How the steps were laid out in the recipe were really easy to follow.  I didn't think that I was missing anything or any steps when I was making the pad thai.  Reading the other recipes in The Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking is looks like this is the case with all the recipes.  Each one laid out nicely and easy to follow. 

The other thing that I will mention about Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking that I really liked, the pages laid open flat.  This is incredibly helpful when you are following the recipe and cooking at the same time.

Thank you Dana Shultz for your cookbook, and your use of the words "Entirely Plant Based" on your cover.  You’ve opened up an entirely new cuisine for my taste buds which will help me be successful during my vegetarian month.

I wanted to show you all what the Peanut Butter Pad Thai should have looked like, way more colourful with those yucky onions.

I wanted to show you all what the Peanut Butter Pad Thai should have looked like, way more colourful with those yucky onions.

Year In Review ~ 2017

Christmas Tree Corner ~ 2017

Christmas Tree Corner ~ 2017

It always amazes me when yet another year has passed.  I never really know where the time goes, but I sure do use it up.  2017 is the year that I launched my website.  While I haven't done a lot with it yet, I have enjoyed what I've done so far (and I hope my readers have too).

For my "year in review", I decided to revisit just a few of the books I read this year.  If you want to read all my reviews for 2017, well you can easily do that by looking in the archive section of this site, but for this particular post, I wanted to touch back onto a few books that really impacted me in one way or the other.

Some of these books I have written reviews on already, and others, I just read without the intention of writing a review, so they will be the first time I've mentioned them on this site.

The Devotion of Suspect X

The Devotion of Suspect X  by Keigo Higashino was the very first book that I reviewed on my site and 10 months later I'm still thinking about it.  From the opening pages of the book, where you witness the murder take place, knowing who the murderer is, to the last lines of the book, I was completely engaged.  This is by far one of the best murder mysteries that I've read to date and I was surprised how Higashino was able to keep me engaged despite the fact I knew who the murderer was.  The Devotion of Suspect X has a very unique take on a murder mystery, and one that I would encourage anyone to give a chance to.

Syndrome E

Syndrome E by Franck Thilliez is the second foreign language book I read this year after The Devotion of Suspect X, and it is the second murder investigation thriller that I thought was fantastic.

Syndrome E is the third book in the Franck Sharko series, but the first one to be translated into English, however, I didn't feel like I was lost while reading this book.  Although I would like to read the first two books in the series, just to completely round out the characters, it wasn't necessary to follow along in the story while reading Syndrome E.  

With some surprising twists in the story, Syndrome E travels the globe to solve it's mystery, which just gets more and more intriguing as you read along.  Another must read.

The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin has to be one of the most uniquely written novels I've read so far.  Written in the second person, The Fifth Season takes a little getting used to, and honestly if it wasn't for the review I read on Goodreads by Rick Riordan, I don't think I would have gotten passed the strangeness of reading in the second person. This would have been my loss as I turned out to love The Fifth Season.

Recommended to my book-club by my friend and author, H. G. Bells, this is one book that I'm pretty sure I would not have discovered without the recommendation of someone I knew and respected. Taking place in a world where people, called orogenes, have the ability to control the earth.  Both feared and revered, orogenes are controlled by the governmental powers and have little say in their own lives.  They are tasked with controlling the seismic activity of the planet in order to steam off near-extinction level earthquakes.

Read The Fifth Season, and give yourself until at least page 50 before you put it down.  Reading in the second person takes some time getting used to, but believe me when I say, in this case it's totally worth it.

Heart and Brain: Body Language: An Awkward Yeti Collection

If you have never heard of The Awkward Yeti, do yourself a favour and check out creator, Nick Seluk's site, go ahead, do it now...you can thank me later.

You can read my original review of Heart and Brain: Body Language or you can just trust me when I say that somehow Nick Seluk knows exactly what you are thinking and when you are thinking it, and then draws it out using the characters Heart and Brain as well as a host of other organs.  

Full of laughs, I loved this book from cover to cover.

Earls The Cookbook

I debated a little bit whether to include the Earls The Cookbook or not.  Why the debate you ask?  Well, this it isn't an actual novel, but rather a cookbook.  That being said, there is a bit of a story in the book itself on how Earls came about back in the eighties, and each recipe includes a little bit of a description on how it was created or where the inspiration for the recipe came from.

In the end I decided to include Earls The Cookbook in my year in review post because I LOVE IT!  I've been wanting this cookbook for a while now, since I love eating at Earls, and this year for Christmas, Michael got it for me.

Homemade Focaccia Bread ~ Recipe from Earls The Cookbook

Homemade Focaccia Bread ~ Recipe from Earls The Cookbook

So far I've tried two of the recipes, the Focaccia bread and the Alfredo sauce, and both turned out perfectly and tasted just the same as eating at Earls. I've also learned about making rice for stir-fries, and I think I now know why my rice for stir-fries never turns out even close to how it is as restaurants (I believe I've been under-cooking the rice and not drying it out).

There are a bunch of other recipes that I will be trying out in the next little while, including my regular order whenever I eat at Earls, the Santa Fe Chicken Salad with a side order of warm potato salad.  

While some of the recipes do require a little bit of prep-work, I haven't found any of the recipes to be outside my level of comfort, and even the rarer ingredients have an explanation on where you can purchase them.  I think this would be a great cookbook for any level with some simple recipes for newbie cooks and some delightful flavours that would entertain even accomplished chefs,

Having read a cookbook cover to cover and already enjoying some of the recipes in the few days I've owned it, Earls The Cookbook deserves to be included in my year in review.

Decorated cookies from my annual cookie decorating party ~ 2017

That's it, my most favourite books of the year.  While I have enjoyed many other books in 2017, these five books have had the most impact on my year.  I look forward to finding out what books will have the most impact on me in 2018.