For me, J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine was a particularly well suited summer read. The book is about a family house in Cape Neddick, Maine and the trials and tribulations of four of the women who are part of the dysfunctional family, the Kellehers, that own the house. As it turns out, my family owns a summer house a stone's throw from Cape Neddick, Maine, and I must admit that our family, like all families, has its share of dysfunction. With that background, I was understandably excited about the book, and while I liked it a lot, it did not totally live up to my expectations. My real complaint is that the book took too long for all the characters to get up to Maine - once they were there and interacting I really enjoyed the book, but I think Sullivan took too long to tell us everyone's back stories. More about the book after the jump. The seafood salad pictured above is my go to dish for when I have friends visit me in Maine. It is both fancy, because of the lobster, but very easy and down to earth as well, and it screams Maine in the summer. At least in the Northeast, lobster prices are low this summer, so for your labor day weekend, make this dish as a goodbye kiss to summer.
One problem I have always had with bellinis is that they are too small! As soon as I start to sip one, whoosh, it is gone. This week, I really needed a big cocktail. I spent the last three weeks on a highly stressful project at work which had me jittery during the day and sleepless at night. The case I was working on ended (for now) yesterday, with a really great result. So I deserve more than a smidge of champagne, I deserve a jug of champagne. I was originally going to use fresh peach puree for my bellini, but saw some beautiful fresh apricots at the market and went with those to make this drink a little more esoteric and fancy. The St. Germain adds a touch more of sweetness (I didn't add any sugar to the apricot puree). All in all, this was just the kind of girly, bubbly drink I needed. Now that this project is over I hope to have more room in my brain for blogging!
I am sorry I have been so MIA from bookcooker the last few weeks. August has been quite a month so far. I have really been put through the ringer at work and that, combined with weekends away have made it difficult for me to get my act together and post! I have a real backlog of books, after The Cat's Table I will be hoping to turn out posts on J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine (Lobster!), Chris Bohjalian's The Sandcastle Girls (with an Armenian Feast!), Deborah Harkness' Shadow of Night (current buns) and Jesymn Ward's Salvage the Bones (haven't decided yet). Without further adieu, here is some Sri Lankan Milk Toffee which was inspired by Michael Ondaatje's playful and soulful The Cat's Table. While this candy does not appear in the book at all, the main character of the book, Michael (nicknamed Mynah), is a young Sri Lankan boy who is sent half way around the world on a big ship on his own, from his Aunt and Uncle's house in Sri Lanka to his long absent mother in London. On the ship he meets two other boys his own age who are traveling alone, Cassius and Ramadhin. The three quickly form a mischievous threesome who spend their days and nights running around the ship and getting into trouble. The three first meet at "The Cat's Table" the opposite of the luxurious ship's Captain's Table, which is filled with important and wealthy guests. The Cat's Table is filled with the nobodies, including three unaccompanied children. While food does not take a big part of the book (despite the fact that many scenes take place at the dinner table), this traditional Sri Lankan sweet is something I could picture the three boys nibbling on as they explored the ship, spying on people and learning about life. More about the engaging adventures of Mynah, Cassius and Ramadhin after the jump.