It’s been a long long time my friends…I don’t even know how many of you are still out there. I took a long sabbatical from blogging, due to a life that just got too busy, but I always had the blog in the back of my mind, hoping I could come back to it.
So! Here I am, it’s been A YEAR here in the US of A, things are looking grim on so many levels, so I thought to myself what else can I do to make myself a bit cheerier? BLOG! About wine, food and my favorite books.
For this first posting after my long absence, I decided to go with one of my favorite books of this year, and definitely one of the best mysteries I’ve read in a very long time. Dal Mclean’s Bitter Legacy. This book is not your typical romance, but to me it was one of the most moving love stories I’ve read in a while. I love a hard won happy ending, and Ben and James forged theirs in fire.
If you are new to this blog, or forgot how I go about things, here’s the gist of it, with the review I will have a recipe (vegetarian or vegetarian adaptation) which relates to something in the book, or just a meal or kind of food I connect to the story, I also pair it with a bottle of wine, which I go to the trouble of drinking to ensure you get an accurate recommendation…I usually go for something budget friendly ($12 or less) and tasty that goes perfectly with the book and the food.
For Bitter Legacy, I went with a Vegetarian Bolognese, if you read the book (and I really hope you do!) it will become very clear why, both the book and this recipe are winners. The wine is of course a Chianti, nothing goes better with a bold pasta dish, than this Italian staple.
But before we go to the food let’s talk about the book.
James Henderson is a Detective Sergeant for London’s Metropolitan Police Murder Investigation Team, he’s on the fast track to become an inspector, when he gets put on a case that could make or break careers. A criminal attorney with roots in the highest echelons of London society is brutally murdered, and looking for her killer James is swept into a web of ugliness that threatens to touch every part of his life.
Then there is the housing issue…James who hails from the most privileged of British families, left it all behind to be a cop. It cost him everything, and he has been adrift for a few years, has not even had a proper place to live.
It just so happens the perfect flat and flatmate just drop right out of the sky, sure they are a bit too close for comfort to the investigation, but hey! It’s London and affordable, decent places to live are rarer than rubies, so he goes for it, and well, that changes everything.
This is by far the best mystery/thriller I’ve read in years. I literally was enthralled, by how the author spun this story, and how well she struck a balance between the mystery and the love story.
This is not a typical romance by any means, and that is precisely what made it so compelling for me. The character development was superb. I really loved how flawed and damaged she let her heroes be, and not gratuitously either, she showed us how trauma and violence can ravage lives long after they stop. That humans show their pain in many different ways, but also that the things they do in their pain, are not WHO THEY ARE.
I also appreciated the reprimand she put forth, reminding us that when a tragedy happens, there are casualties on all sides, and when we try to be saviors, we inevitably forget some victims in the process.
Mostly though I just loved the writing, the depth of each character was exquisite, there is good and bad in all of us. For some that goodness survives even the most horrible pain, and for some being bad is the one thing they can rely on. James is a study in stoicism, and weakness, just human. He knows he is betraying himself with the choices he’s making, but he can’t stop the force of his feelings for Ben…And Ben, oohhh Ben, so beautiful and in so much pain. He completely annihilated me.
I appreciated so much, how the author showed an accurate picture on what trauma looks like, that traumatized children often times grow up to be traumatized adults, and that their pain can play out in many different ways, violence, self-harm, detachment…But also that happiness and healing are possible for them too, if they are supported, loved and willing to do the work.
The mystery I won’t get too much into, because it is twisty,turny, layered, and with such a wealth of messed up characters, you will NOT see it coming…If you are like me, it will make you yell at your kindle at 5:00am.
I can only hope there is more from this author very soon. Now the food.
Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese
- 1 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, grated
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), peeled and chopped
- 12 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 3 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
- 1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2/3 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
- 1 pound of spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
Directions: Bring red wine to a simmer in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic and cook , stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and very tender and most of the wine has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Add eggplant, mushrooms and rosemary and cook until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, broth and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and stir in almond milk and 2 tablespoons chopped basil.
To serve, cook pasta in boiling water until al dente. Drain thoroughly. Serve sauce over pasta and garnish with remaining basil, and parmesan cheese.
I hope you try the book, the wine and the pasta! They are an amazing combo.
Next week I’ll be posting some holiday cookie recipes and my favorite books of the year. It’s been a good year for romance readers, there has not been a lot of volume, but the good ones have been amazing!
Cheers and Happy Reading!