Spicy Sweet Tea Glazed Chicken with Corn Relish

You get used to 60 degree summers. Somehow, the body in all of its intelligence deduces how to survive in any environs. I visited India twice during the monsoon season of sticky long sleeves with sweat and cotton as air conditioner. I grew up in a place that might sound fictitious with its now “normal” climes of 110 degree weather. And at one time, I lived in a slice of the sparkly city by the bay that became blanketed by a dense fog, muting colors and making a hoodie summertime uniform. There was a time when if we got really desperate, we would leave our hovel, climb into our car and just drive in an attempt to chase the sunlight on the rare occasions when the dull gunmetal gray sky sucked all hope that sun would ever visit our neighborhood again. We ate soup in the summer. Threw the extra down blanket over the duvet. I would walk the few blocks from our apartment to my favorite coffeeshop chilled to the marrow and loving every moment of grey-skied summer humor.

We live in Oakland now. I’m getting used to sunshine 24/7 again with the help of cold-brewed coffee and iced tea. Call me a wuss and I will gladly accept the title. Growing up in Texas, heat means pools and ice cream. It means bringing a sweater to slap over the tank top upon going inside any building because that building is a microclimate of cold proportions, aided by air conditioning. You get used to it. My first car, a Peugeot passed down from my Tia to my Tio and then to me didn’t have air conditioning and in the summertime I would venture out, windows down, an extra blouse in my bag just in case the current one became slick with sweat. One summer during college, I lived in South Carolina and learned how to drink sweet tea to dull the ache of throbbing heat from the sun. That summer changed my life in meaningful ways: I found my love of teaching and made friendships and memories that have lasted. Foodie Day at Leigh's Favorite Books

This past weekend landed me in Sunnyvale for a Steeped book event and I learned that the city is aptly named. Two cookbook author-friends and I handed out samples and talked about our books with passersby of the open-air farmer’s market that brought Sunnyvalites downtown and strolling past Leigh’s Favorite Books. I caught up with Sheri, the brain behind the event. Emma passed out a Chipotle Porter with just enough of a kick in the finish to surprise the dark beer lover, of which I am one. Cheryl poured shots of a vanilla-ginger lassi that made me want to slurp down a whole glass. And I filled a small bowl with strips of fresh levain bread on which to smear either the strawberry jam or sweet tea jelly from Steeped. The sun shone on my table like a spotlight. And during the day, I met so many lovely people. A friend from my Texas youth group even stopped by. After the book signing finished, we chatted in that brief way of catching up without taking a breath in five minutes that can happen when trying to squeeze 10 years into a 30 minute window. You sometimes find how similar your stories are and that as she completes one thought, you’re nodding from a known solidarity.

Sometimes you don’t have to know the person personally to find solidarity. In the wave of people who tried jam and jelly, one woman visiting from Los Angeles who sampled the sweet tea jelly stood out. An immense joy exists when meeting other people obsessed with food. Conversation starts easily and makes unexpected detours and discoveries. Sweet tea jelly talk led to Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles in Long Beach which then led me to grilled chicken and the idea of creating a sweet tea glaze. Hmm, I thought. I might need to get on that. We had known each other for no longer than 3 minutes and yet experienced camaraderie through ingredient collaboration. The next day, as I sat down and began planning our menu for the week, I flipped to a page in one of my cookbooks that begged to be adapted to a version with tea. And, it’s just the right time to make this recipe what with the sunny but breezy days sweeping across Oakland. The glaze has a hint of Texas in smoky chipotles. It includes kernels of sunshine that we would eat for visual cues of summertime when the San Francisco weather looked its most bleak. But, mostly, that slick of sweetness in the guise of sweet tea jelly gives homage to South Carolina where the kudzu grows wild and friendship of youth can be evergreen.
Spicy Sweet Tea Chicken

Spicy Sweet Tea Glazed Chicken & Corn Relish

The recipe in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook calls for oranges: orange marmalade, orange zest, and orange juice. I swapped them out for sweet tea jelly from my book Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest to counteract the sweetness with a bit of bitterness that I thought would match up well with the spiciness of chipotle. I also added a touch of chicken stock to give it a savory hint that cooks down in the reduced glaze.  With the corn relish, I wanted to add more vegetables, and found that small diced zucchini paired well with the corn, cilantro and scallions. I hadn’t planned on sharing it here but liked the leftovers today so much, that I knew it was too good not to share. 

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Best Simple Recipes cookbook

Makes 4 servings

Sweet Tea Glaze
1/2 cup Sweet Tea Jelly (page 19, Steeped)
1 1/2 teaspoons minced canned chipotle in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon grated grapefruit zest plus 2 tablespoons juice
1 tablespoon chicken stock

4 (12-ounce) bone-in split chicken breasts, fat trimmed
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon safflower oil

Corn Relish
1 ( ounce) bag frozen organic corn, thawed
1 small zucchini, small diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions, chopped

Make the Glaze: whisk together the jelly, chipotle, zest, juice and stock in a bowl. Set aside.

Fold a piece of foil over a plate to create a tent and place near the stovetop. Drizzle the oil into a 12-inch fry pan placed over medium high heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken and add to the pan to cook for five minutes until golden brown. Turn the chicken with tongs. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes or until it reaches 160F. Move the chicken to the plate and pull down the foil to keep the chicken warm.

Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the pan. Add the corn and zucchini to the pan and cook for five minutes, browning it. Scoop out the corn and zucchini into a bowl. Stir in the cilantro and scallions along with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Finish off the glaze: pour the whisked jelly into the pan, still set over medium heat. Scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan and cook down the sauce by half, about 4 minutes. It will thicken upon cooling. Serve the chicken over the corn relish. Drizzle the glaze over the chicken and serve.

 


Pomegranate Chicken with Eggplant and Figs

What-Katie-Ate-on-the-Weekend

Weekend warriors take on many forms. In my case, I used to reserve the weekends for cooking projects. There will be a batch of Morado Jam in my near future as soon as the first Concord grapes hit the farmer’s market. Even if my once prodigious-to-me preserving has taken a bit of a backseat, can we reflect on the idea that cooking during the weekend looks a little bit different from weeknight meals? Perhaps the time is looser and not quite so structured. Maybe you regularly invite friends over for long, leisurely meals sobre mesa. I like that European ideal that the time spent at the table can linger without all of the weekday requirements. Good stuff happens over meals.

Katie Quinn Davies captures that sense of revelry and occasion in her latest cookbook, What Katie Ate on the Weekend… My first impulse upon thumbing my way through the book leapt out as surprise. Her popular blog, What Katie Ate was one of the early forerunners in blogging to really maximize moody photography where the shadows and darkness play as much of a role in the shots as the food itself. What Katie Ate on the Weekend is full of brightness, light dripping off of the pages. Some cookbooks I collect for the recipes, others for the stories. This cookbook is all about the photos.

Davies won a James Beard award for the photography in her first cookbook. So, it goes without saying that the photography will be enticing. And, it is. But looking at the cookbook as part of a larger package, the design choices are intriguing. Full page photo collages get splashed with modern chunky typography. The design and layout are key to bringing the sheer quantity of photographs spanning the pages of this cookbook. The design is busy and fun, even down to the bright pink and white polka dot grosgrain bookmark, and conceptually this design suits the book because Davies herself is busy and fun. While weekends may relish lounging around a table, they also welcome road trips and excursions.

She invites the reader into several weekend journeys around the world and brings them to the table with recipes featured in that excursion. The book acts as travelogue and scrapbook with imagery setting the scene of place scattered throughout the book, jettisoning the reader to places like Dublin and the Barossa Valley. The sections break out into the kinds of categories you would expect for gatherings like Party Food and Drinks. You get the impression she likes to throw fetes and wants you to join in on the fun since recipe yields tend to extend the party through larger sized results.

Several recipes stood out. Her Eggplant and Mozarella Lasagne (page 206) substitutes thin slices of eggplant for the noodle layer, which makes it like the best version of eggplant parm possible. My sweet side eyed the Self-Saucing Mocha Pudding (page 278)– my pudding affection is legendary in our house. But the recipe I kept coming back to, the one that made me pause over its brief method and easy assembly was the Pomegranate Chicken, which I lightly adapted.

Davies’ Pomegranate Chicken recipe calls for 12 pieces of chicken thighs, but instead I substituted a Japanese eggplant with its slender, long purple body and several yellow and green-striped tiger figs for roughly half of the chicken, opting to marinate the side accountrements with the chicken for a fuller flavorful meal. While her initial yield for the recipe serves 4 to 6, I changed that to 3 to 4 since there isn’t as much chicken. Trust me when I say you will devour the eggplant and figs right off the griddle. There’s a pretty good chance I’m going to make the marinade again and just marinate a heaping ton of eggplants and figs. I sweat the eggplant using the colander and salting method before tossing the rinsed eggplant chunks into the marinade. For the figs, I opted to use ripe tiger figs with jammy raspberry middles. You could also use black mission figs to great effect here too.

The idea behind the adaptation was to invite other Middle Eastern ingredients into the marinade, thinking their contributions would add to the party. Because isn’t that one of the beauties of planning soirees, thinking about the guest list and who might hit it off with whom, the kinds of conversations that might happen with the right conglomeration of friends? Indeed, the sweetness from the figs, lush softened eggplant and savory chicken combine with tart pomegranate molasses and frizzled mint leaves for a highly memorable meal. We served it with sliced beets, pistachios, and a relish of ginger, chive, and mint. All of the flavors melded together so well and started our weekend on a celebratory note.

Pomegranate Chicken Eggplant and Figs

Pomegranate Chicken, with Eggplant and Figs

Thanks go out to Penguin Random House for sending the book to review.

Adapted from What Katie Ate on the Weekend
Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Katie Quinn Davies, 2015.

Serves 3 to 4

Pomegranate Molasses Marinade

2 ½ tablespoons olive oil

½ cup pomegranate molasses

Juice of 1 lemon

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 ½ tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 sprigs mint, leaves, finely shredded

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat (5-6)

pomegranate molasses (optional), mint and pomegranate seeds, to serve

1 Japanese eggplant, large chopped

4 fresh tiger figs, halved

 

In a glass measuring cup with a spout, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, vinegar, mint with a dash of salt and pepper. Place the chicken, figs, and eggplant into a large zip seal bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and squeeze out any air, zipping it shut and jostling the chicken, figs, and eggplant so they are all coated. Place the bag in the refrigerator, ideally overnight.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Working in batches, use tongs to add the chicken, figs, and eggplant to the pan to cook for six minutes on each side or until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. The eggplant and figs will cook faster than the chicken, so once they soften at the touch of the tongs, flip and cook the other side, removing from the heat once both sides have cooked through. Sprinkle the mint leaves and pomegranate seeds over the chicken, figs, and eggplant to serve.


Steeped Book Cooking Class (San Francisco)

Steeped Book Cooking Class

Before we continue with our last few weeks of the Summer Reading Series, I wanted to broadcast a PSA. When I deejayed in college, we would give a PSA on the hour of our radio shows as a way to mark time and get out valuable news. In that same spirit, I want to invite you to join me for my Steeped Cooking with Tea class at 18 Reasons, Tuesday, August 11 from 6 to 9 p.m in San Francisco. I hear there are still a few seats left, so snag your spot before the last openings are gone. Books will be for sale, provided by the great crew at cookbookery outpost, Omnivore Books and I am happy to sign your copy for whomever you like. This cooking class holds a special place for me. I have volunteered through 18 Reasons with Cooking Matters classes in San Francisco and Oakland. 18 Reasons is a community center where people come together over food, and they encourage participation of making the community a better place through cooking and food education. They’re great people and I’m delighted to be teaching a class with them.

Okay, back to the class! I’m excited to teach techniques for cooking with tea. I believe if you master these simple methods, you can easily jazz up your food with a bit of exotic flair. Michelle at 18 Reasons and I landed on these recipes to achieve just that purpose. I love teaching other passionate home cooks and hope you will join in on the evening tea revelry. Now, to discuss the basics. Here’s a preview of the menu with gorgeous photos by the incredibly talented Stephanie Shih. If the cake photo looks a bit different from the bunch, it is freshly baked and freshly shot today by yours truly.

The Menu

Steeped-Book-Hurricane-Popcorn-Stephanie-Shih
Hurricane Popcorn with Green Tea Furikake: For several years, I lived in a house of strong, opinionated women. One of them, Lisa, introduced me to Hurricane-style popcorn that she had grown to love when she lived in Hawaii. I grew to love it after my first fistful. You will learn how to make green tea furikake that jazzes up popcorn and anywhere else you might use the seaweed version.

Steeped-Book-White-Bean-Walnut-Tea-Toasts-Stephanie-Shih

Walnut White Bean Tea Toasts: This little ditty hands-down has been the showstopper at cooking demos, cooking classes and samplings during the spring Steeped book tour. Whether you are making a batch of the ridiculously addictive walnut white bean spread to smear onto toast for afternoon tea, lunch or to serve with crudites, you will learn how to use tea as a spice to whiz up a delightful spread that will make it into your regular rotation.

Steeped-Book-California-Tea-Leaf-Salad_stephanie-shih

California Tea Leaf Salad: This salad found its inspiration at one of two restaurants near our old neighborhood. Instead of making a Burmese version, we are making a California version, where it celebrates that so much of our fruits and vegetables come from the Golden State. You will learn how to make fermented green tea leaves and the salad you love when eating out, at home.

Steeped-Book-Chamomile-Corn-Chowder-Stephanie-Shih

Chamomile Corn Chowder: Before organic corn skirts the farmer’s market and this year’s stalks become next year’s lusting, learn how to fold it into a silky soup with lots of textural appeal. We will be focusing on the idea of building layers of flavor using chamomile.

Steeped-Book-Evelyns-Cake

Evelyn’s English Breakfast Meringue Frosted Chocolate Bar Cake: This cake. It’s a mouthful to say and I’m pretty sure your mouth will stay full of it. This is what it looks like before going into the oven. Come to class to see it in all of its crackly goodness. Learn how to incorporate tea into baking in a bit of a departure from regular techniques of baking with tea.

Sign up for the 18 Reasons Steeped Cooking with Tea Class here.

 

Coming Soon

Leighs-Foodie15postcardIf you missed getting one of the last spots for the class, come get steeped in the South Bay on August 22. I’ll be joining the lovely Cheryl Sternman Rule, Emma Christensen and Sheri Codiana for one doozy of a foodie day at Leigh’s Favorite Books in Sunnyvale from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Fall book tour events are forthcoming. If I’m in your part of the world, I hope to see you at one of the events.

Stay tuned for the next book review in the Summer Reading Series. We’ve still got a small chunk of time before autumn leaps on us and I am working on some devilishly delicious fun things for the fall. So, stick around, and settle in. Things are heating up. I’ll bring the tea. You bring the company.


Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor

Stir Book

One kind of peer pressure I particularly esteem is that of perusing what other kindred spirits online happen to be reading. I had spied this book at an airport bookstore and been easily taken in by its robin’s egg blue hue and the wooden spoon dipped into melted chocolate that drips into a pool below. There’s something so tactile in the image and cheering about the color that I had noted the book for a future read. Then, I began seeing the book in action in Instagram photos. I decided to take the plunge and added it to my summer reading series. I’m so glad I did. Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home by Jessica Fechtor kept me spellbound.

The story starts with a collapse and a subsequent emergency trip to the hospital where Fechtor learns she has had a sudden aneurysm. The rest of the story explores the long road to healing and how cooking and baking play an instrumental role in her finding her footing once again. This is Fechtor’s first book and I can relate to the joy and excitement involved in that enterprise. In terms of layout, this culinary memoir follows the playbook of section endings including a recipe mentioned in the previous section. Many of the recipes are adapted and read as part of a binder of favorite recipes and familiar flavors that will reconnect her with who she is when she is unsure. I particularly liked her descriptions of bread and have made a note to visit Hi-Rise Bakery when I’m in Boston this fall. I loved the moments where a cup of tea snuck into the narrative and think it would be all kinds of brilliant to have tea with Fechtor and talk about writing, Derek Walcott’s Omeros, and cooking.

It’s easy to cheer Fechtor on through every small and large victory. As a heroine of her own story, she exhibits poise and grace in circumstances where she might have become despondent or angry, instead she gives the reader gratitude. There were a few circumstances where I felt angry on her behalf such as a crucial missed appointment where I stated aloud about the ineptitude of that office to my husband late one evening. Her family and friends rally around her, but so much of the work being done is internal in the places they can’t physically see. And yet, one thing she didn’t expect is how the time spent healing and becoming whole might be a time she would rue coming to an end and this points to the book title’s inspiration: “It was the strangest thing, this tug of longing for the days that I was still squarely in. The very days that I’d been counting down. There in that house on the water, something was happening. Something so quiet that it was barely persceptible to me. It was more of a stir than a shift, a breeze that swirls through a pile of leaves, holds them in the air for a moment, then sets them back down, the same pile, rearranged.”

She writes her vulnerability with quiet strength and in prose so lovely that it can be arresting. So many of the highlights in my copy of the book are of powerful and fresh metaphors like describing Toll House cookies as “faintly rippled like unsmoothed bedsheets.” Where I think her writing finds its pinnacle force is in her description of food, cooking and observations around them. Her details are simple and grounded in stimulating the senses. When she speaks about food, she is really speaking about life: “To fry an egg is to operate with the perfect faith that you will sit down and eat it.” A hopefulness permeates the pages of this book. To say that it stirred something deep within me is an understatement. I’m still cheering Fechtor on long after the book has been finished and the cover is closed. I look forward to reading more from her and glad she blogs over at Sweet Amandine.


Three Many Cooks Book Review

Three Many Cooks Book Review

When I first stumbled upon the food blog, Three Many Cooks, the idea of a mom and her two daughters collaborating on a food blog together seemed like a winsome idea. Through the medium of food and narrative, they showcase individual cooking styles and personality. Several years ago, I had the occasion to meet and befriend the mom, Pam Anderson and one of the daughters, Maggy Keet at a blogging rendezvous and found them to be as warm and effusive as their inviting blog. Their memoir was published this spring and I had been looking forward to reading it even as Maggy offered to send me a copy (and I had already bought the e-version.). Three Many Cooks: One Mom, Two Daughters and Their Shared Stories of Food, Faith & Family is this week’s selection in my summer reading series.

The book chronicles the lives of Pam and her two daughters, Maggy and Sharon (Damelio) through chapters where each author takes her turn to tell her story and ends in a recipe mentioned in that chapter. This model for food memoir is one I have long enjoyed ever since I devoured Molly Wizenberg’s first book, A Homemade Life. Including a recipe at the end of each chapter has a way of really solidifying the story, by grounding it in something tactile and delicious. This device also has a way of making the personal universal—in sharing the story and recipe, the author invites the reader to make it their own. I’m making a plan to prepare the Chicken Vindaloo and Grilled Lemon Chicken this fall and keeping my eye on the Blue-Cheese Crusted Beef Stout Pie—I know someone who would eat that up! Let me tell you, I relished this book, anticipating my pocket of reading time each evening.

In the book, we follow Pam’s foray into the culinary world, long before she established herself as a veteran cookbook author and former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated. I appreciated the grace her chapters conveyed both with herself and others, moving from the idea of perfection to prioritizing relationships. Her story starts in the South where the cuisine is summed up eloquently by Maggy: “That’s what Southern food is. Love cooked until it falls off the bone, melts in your mouth, runs down your chin, or drowns your heart in the oil of gladness.” Pam is the kind of hostess I aspire to be and I found a certain synchronicity with her stories. Maggy, the eldest daughter, leaves her mark, discovering how to cook after she married and moved abroad. The youngest daughter, Sharon, seemed to find an early fluency in the kitchen, sticking close to her mom. If you take a wide-angle view at the book it’s really about three cooks coming into their own.

But in some ways, while the book is about food and memorable anecdotes like Sharon’s chapter, “Thighs that Bind,” family is more important than the food. The reader learns of the lineage of cooking passed down from Mama Skipper to her only child Pam, who then in turn passes it down to Maggy and Sharon. Their lives are interwoven and so even as Sharon is telling a story, Maggy or Pam play central characters. It’s refreshing to find that food’s importance lay not just in preparing delectable flavors but really in bringing family together.

The last F in the trifecta of the title and telling of their tale is faith. While this word embodies its spiritual definition, it also embodies the faith that each of these women place in each other and that they are found faithful. One instance involves Maggy transporting multiple bags of groceries on the New York subway to her parent’s house in Connecticut, preparing to keep the Christmas Eve tradition alive for her Episcopalian minister father as Pam is visiting her ailing parents. Maggy might say it best on page 300, “I was raised to my faith in food—around the table in my mother’s kitchen, around the altar in my father’s church where bread and wine were offered to all.”

Sometimes the world we live in can seem cold and lonely. This book is warmth and welcome in 308 ivory paper pages. It’s quite possible that you might find yourself rooting romantically for Sharon when she first spies a classmate hoisting his Dutch oven of caldo verde to study group. You might find yourself getting cozy on the mat under the mango tree with Maggy in Malawi (where she lived in a tea plantation!). You might find yourself choked up with Pam as she hears the provenance of the piece of sinker cypress that would eventually become the counter of her bar. This book touched me with its candor that really resonates with the reader because while it’s a book about food, family, and faith, it’s really a book chronicling love.


Orchard House Book Review

Orchard-House-Book-Review

It may seem odd to compare a book to candy, but that notion seemed right in this case. Some candies disappear quickly and before you know it, you’ve unwrapped, chewed and swallowed. Others require time to savor them like peeling the paper off a lollipop where each lick gets you closer to the stick in the center. I picked up Orchard House: How a Neglected Garden Taught One Family to Grow by Tara Austen Weaver in April, not long after the book’s publication date with the intention of reading it on a flight from the West Coast to the East Coast during my book tour. But, it surprised me as good books do, making me rethink my reading plan. This book  resonated with me and I lingered on certain passages, really relishing the story.

I’d met the author, Tara Austen Weaver at a blogger conference many years ago and felt like we would be kindred spirits from our shared love of writing and the fact that her blog is called “Tea and Cookies” (yes, she is a voracious tea drinker and includes a lovely anecdote about Matcha on page 155). We saw each other at a culinary conference this year, but I had never actually read her work until now and what I found at times was prose so unsettling or beautiful that I had to pause. I might re-read a sentence or discover the poetry in her framework, using litany with a final turn at the end of her list and a line of gravitas that would cut to the meat of the subject. On page 163 she describes her hopes for what her friends might see in the imperfection of the garden at her mother’s house that comes to a head in the statement, “I hoped they’d see the wonder as well as the weeds.” The chapters in the book almost read like letters or essays that don’t require a reading in one sitting and so I kept coming back to the memoir to see what new thing it might teach me about tending a garden or tending a relationship.

The premise of the memoir lies in the acquisition of a house on a rambling plot of land in Seattle that Tara’s mother purchased. The orchard, the lawn, even the decision to maintain a wild field and a side garden all revealed the tenuous threads between Tara and her mom, characteristic of the complexities that can befall a mother-and-daughter relationship. Through caring for the land they learn how to better care for each other. And it is no small thing. She captured her own vulnerability on the page masterfully that sometimes bled into me asking those questions of my own life. To make the personal universal is no trifling thing for a writer to accomplish in their work. She also deftly transitioned between talking about her family’s inter-personal relations and food. One selection that particularly riveted me pertained to raspberries. She said, “After years of shutting people out, how could I possibly let them in? I hadn’t planned on the raspberries. (p. 157)” And thus begins a story about how the bumper crop of raspberries growing in her mother’s garden offers an opportunity for her to tighten bonds with new friends in Seattle over raspberry pie because “[p]ie begs to be shared. (p. 160)”

As Tara tells her story of coming to peace with her family and finding wholeness, she also introduces many good tips on plants and gardening. Even though I have a black thumb, I became intrigued with learning tidbits coursing through the book about permaculture. I’m in awe of the final chapter, Harvestfest and the brilliant idea it presented for rethinking holiday celebration. I learned that there are two kinds of tomatoes: determinate and indeterminate. I learned about grafting and about the importance of pruning. But all of the gardening anecdotes, while helpful, really build another layer for the undercurrent of hopes and expectations the author has in the kind of relationship she has and wants to have with her family members. “This is the challenge of gardening: to see what is there now and to allow for what will grow. It is an exercise in imagination, in hope, in faith. (p. 49)” And I think by the end of the book, all of the hope, faith and imagination that Weaver has put into the garden and her relationship with her mother have begun to bloom beautifully.