Tag Archive for Sarah Addison Allen

The Peach Keeper

The Peach Keeper ****

by Sarah Addison Allen

An Edible Book Review inspired by Jain at Food for Thought, a delicious blog for readers with an appetite for the written word.

“The New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Chased the Moon welcomes you to her newest locale: Walls of Water, North Carolina, where the secrets are thicker than the fog from the town’s famous waterfalls, and the stuff of superstition is just as real as you want it to be.”

I’m long overdue in sharing this book that I read back in April~

I always look forward to Sarah Addison Allen’s books~ I had pre-ordered it, anxious for its arrival. It was waiting for me like a nice, juicy peach ready for me to sink my teeth into, when I returned from vacation. I took these photos and cooked this book back when the azaleas were blooming, and although I had shelved this review, I didn’t shelve this book until after I read it cover-to-cover in two days. . . one day if I hadn’t had to unpack & bathe :-)

My intention was to take a little road trip to tie in to this review, and visit Transylvania County in Western North Carolina ~ the area that the town of Walls of Water is based on, and home to over 250 waterfalls. It became apparent that was not going to happen and though it’s still on my list to visit, it looks more like it will be the fall when the weather is not in the triple digits.

My other excuse is that I got waylaid by another book about peaches  . . .

The long-buried secrets and mysteries of The Peach Keeper continued to haunt me to return to it & Walls of Water ever since~  most recently by an article in Our State Magazine.

Full of North Carolina native, Sarah Addison Allen’s trademarks~ magic, small town charm, and FOOD~ The Peach Keeper is easy to devour in one sitting~  and is a great book to tuck in your beach bag or keep by your night stand.

In keeping with this book, I set a simple table where peaches are the stars. Peach blossom-inspired napkin rings from Pier 1, napkins from Stein Mart, Napoleon Bee flatware for the buzzing of the bees & a tablecloth from Kohl’s~

“A cool breeze floated eerily by, smelling of peaches.”

“If anyone had been paying attention to the signs, they would have realized that air turns white when things are about to change, that paper cuts mean there’s more to what’s written on the page than meets the eye, and that birds are always out to protect you from things you don’t see.”

“There was a slight hint of peaches in the air, but it didn’t scare her.”

Tucker Devlin:

“What I know, what I’m best at, is peaches. Peach juice swims in my veins. When I bleed, it’s sweet. Honeybees fly right to me.”

“He looked like the world was a ripe peach and he was ready to bite it.”

There was plenty to tempt my palate between these pages~ Oatmeal Cookies with Coffee Icing, Double Chocolate Espresso Brownies, Lemon-Chicken Salad, Lemon and Broccoli Mini-Quiches, Angel Food Cake, Honeymoon Pie. . .but it just seemed criminal not to use peaches in this edible review~

“Cups of lemon crème layered with hazelnut shortbread crumbles, pansies, lavender, and lemon verbena.”

I layered peaches, store-bought hazelnut shortbread cookies, lemon curd & whipped cream~ and garnished with edible violas for an individual, easy trifle~

“Lunch was then served, beautiful food garnished with edible roses and tasting of lavender and mint and lust. People closed their eyes with each bite, and the air turned sweet and cool. The quartet played ravishing melodies that were strange and exotic. There was a curious sense of longing in the air, and everyone felt it. People began to think of old loves and missed opportunities. Unlike most of these functions, no one wanted to leave. Lunch lingered for hours.”

“So it was with Claire Waverley, a beautiful, mysterious caterer who it was rumored could make your rivals jealous, your love life better, your senses stronger, all with the food she created. Her specialty was edible flowers, and once it got out that she had something no one else had, everyone wanted her.”

I highly recommend sipping on a Peach Bellini on a Saturday or Sunday morning as you read this book :-)


“ ‘Can you really make people feel differently with the food you cook, with the drinks you prepare?’ ”


A savory recipe for your peaches~ A Stacked Peach & Mozzarella Salad~

Grilled Peach-and-Mozzarella Salad, recipe courtesy Southern Living

Served with baby spinach and a cilantro-lime vinaigrette~ Delicious & definitely a Keeper recipe :-)

  “Just as they turned to walk back up the steps, the scent of peaches permeated the air for a moment, thick and cloying, before it faded into the night, crossing the moon in a wisp of smoke, then disappearing.”

“Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.”

 “North Carolina novelist Sarah Addison Allen brings the full flavor of her southern upbringing to bear on her fiction — a captivating blend of fairy tale magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town sensibility.”

Thank you for your visit, I’m happy to be joining :

Q is for Queen

Q is for Queen

I’m joining Alphabe-Thursday ~ this week’s letter assignment is the letter Q.

Charlotte, NC is known as the Queen City; named by Scotch-Irish settlers who came along the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia. The name for this new settlement was Charlotte in honor of the wife of King George III, who was the king of England. In 1768, Charlotte became an incorporated city, in the new county of Mecklenburg, which was also named in honor of Queen Charlotte’s homeland of Germany.

Perhaps one of the most confusing intersections in Charlotte, the Queens Road/Queens Road intersection. (I’ve been a resident 25 years and I still get confused!)

 The history of afternoon tea can be traced to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, lifelong friend of Queen Victoria~ whom she served as a Lady of the Bedchamber. Finding herself feeling peckish at around 4 o’clock in the afternoon, with the prospect of dinner only at 8 o’clock in the evening, she asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter and cakes to be brought to her private chambers. She later extended this habit by inviting friends to join her, and so the tradition of afternoon tea was born.

Queen Victoria’s reign lasted 63 years and 7 months, longer than that of any other British monarch and the longest of any female monarch in history. I highly recommend watching The Young Victoria, if you haven’t seen it ~ beautiful costumes,  beautiful scenery & beautiful Emily Blunt!

Maintaining a tradition that began in 1860 with Queen Victoria, every year Queen Elizabeth II opens the private gardens at Buckingham Palace to host three afternoon tea parties, each attended by 8,000 guests.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, enter the garden at 4:00 p.m. as one of two bands plays the National Anthem. Taking a different route, each Royal circulates amongst the guests. High ranking, dignitaries, and special guests proceed to the Royal tent to join the Royal Family for afternoon tea. The remaining guests are served tea from a 408-foot long buffet table.  At 6:00 p.m., the Queen and Royal Family depart for the Palace, where once again the National Anthem is played to indicate that the party has ended.

 Queen Elizabeth II, facts here.

Buckingham Palace Garden Party Statistics

(based on attendance of 8000 guests- list courtesy of Buckingham Palace)


  • 20,000 various tea sandwiches

  • 5,000 bridge rolls

  • 9,000 butter drop scones

  • 9,000 fruit tartlets

  • 3,000 butter cake fingers

  • 8,000 slices chocolate/lemon cake

  • 4,500 slices of Dundee cake

  • 4,500 slices of Majorca cake

  • 3,500 slices of chocolate/jam Swiss roll


  • 27,000 cups of Maison Lyons tea*

  • 10,000 glasses of iced coffee

  • 20,000 glasses of fruit squash

*Maison Lyons tea is a special blend produced exclusively by Twinings for the Buckingham Palace Garden Parties. It is a blend of Darjeeling and Assam leaves which gives the unique flavor of peaches or Mussat grapes.


  • 12,000 tea cups and saucers

  • 10,000 teaspoons

  • 10,000 tea plates

  • 6,000 glasses

  • 408 foot buffet table


400 waiting staff and 30 management

The Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland

This is my favorite Queen :-)

This tea pot, cream & sugar is Royal Doulton/Royal Albert English Chintz.

See the rest of this tea party in its entirety here.

 Quick & Easy Mini Fruit Tarts

For these mini fruit tarts, I used Dutch Ann Frozen Tart Shells. Bake the shells according to package directions. Allow to cool. For filling, mix 8 oz. softened cream cheese (I used reduced fat) with 1/2 jar of lemon curd and 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk. Chill filling and spoon in baked tart shells. Add a mixture of fresh fruit. Glaze with orange marmalade thinned with water, if desired.

Paula Deen’s Benedictine Sandwiches~ a great little tea sandwich~ recipe here.

And last, but not least, a Queen you may not be familiar with, The Sugar Queen, an edible review here.

 Thanks to all my hostesses to this week’s parties I’m linking to:

 Jenny Matlock’s Aphabe-Thursday for Alphabet Fun

 Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursday

  Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday~ Stop by & see what’s being served!

The Girl Who Chased The Moon





The Girl Who Chased The Moon **** by Sarah Addison Allen





I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.




 and Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. . . the perfect little food corner in blogland.








Mullaby is a small town of North Carolina, that is full of gossip, ghostly lights that dance in the moonlight, and magical wallpaper that changes color. When 17-year-old Emily comes to live with the gentle giant that is her grandfather, she hopes to solve some of these mysteries including what caused her mother to leave town and vow never to return.







Julia Winterson has returned to town to run her father’s barbecue business. Mullaby is a town with more BBQ restaurants per capita than any other place in the state. Julia’s father’s restaurant has a loyal small following.





Lexington-Style BBQ is something my family is very familiar with. 

The fictitious Mullaby, is loosely based on Lexington, with more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other place in the state. It’s also home to the famous Lexington Barbecue FestivalLexington-Style to us, is the epitome of North Carolina BBQ and nothing rivals Lexington #1.









With BBQ on the brain, I borrowed this idea from Southern Living Magazine, where Foods Editor Scott Jones fondly remembers the BBQ Sundae served at the Rebel Barn BBQ in Oxford, Mississippi. An entrée, not dessert, the sundae layers pork, slaw, and baked beans, all covered in thick, sweet red sauce, or Lexington-Style sauce in this case.








This would be a great idea for tailgating or an outdoor party for serving your BBQ~




Julia’s dreams to open a bakery have to be put on hold, while she works off her father’s debt, so she begins to add cakes and pastries to the menu. To Julia, baking is a language that calls to those you love.






“There was a mood of magic and frenzy to the room. Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails. And then there was the smell–the smell of hope, the kind of smell that brought people home.”




Milky Way Cakes typically have the candy bars melted into the batter. 


My version of a Milky Way Cake~aka  Incredible Melted Ice Cream Cake Recipe





 I used a yellow cake mix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Everything But The… (everything BUT Milky Ways :-)  I did cut up 3 miniature bars and added it to the batter for this Edible Review. This is an easy cake recipe, and it can be altered lots of ways, depending on your cake mix~German Chocolate, Devil’s Food, White… and then with the addition of your flavor of melted ice cream, according to your taste.



  Julia runs into Sawyer, an old flame, when she returns to town.




“You know how some people have a sweet tooth? Well, I have a sweet sense. When I was a little boy, I could be playing across town and know exactly when my mother took a cake out of the oven. I could see the scent, how it floated through the air. All I had to do was follow it home.”





“His mother had tried to hide cakes from him when he was small, but he always found them. He couldn’t help it. At that age, he hadn’t yet developed the willpower to resist. He’d inherited his sweet sense from him grandfather. It was the reason he felt so close to him, closer than to anyone else in his family. His grandfather had been the one who taught him how to turn it off, after one to many stomach aches. And he’d also been the one who’d told Sawyer that not everyone could see what he saw, so be careful who he told. Sawyer normally left it off now, unless he was distracted or tired, then he would unwittingly see the silver glitter undulating out of house windows, or the sparkle trailing out of a child’s lunch box.”







“It was what you told me about how you always sensed when your mother baked cakes. I loved that story. I started baking when I was away at school. That’s a whole story unto itself. The point is, at a time in my life when there were a lot of bad things happening, you gave me something good. Something to hold on to. I’m opening my own bakery when I move back to Baltimore. And it all started with you.”







“You said you followed the scent home when your mother baked, so I have it in my head–in my heart–that if I just keep baking, she’ll find me. That this will bring her home.”





In Mullaby, Emily discovers some of the answers to her questions but also discovers that her disbelief could be suspended further than she ever thought.



I enjoyed this book~ reading it was a piece of cake :-), easily done is a day or two. You do have to suspend your sense of disbelief, just like Emily. You should be warned that it will make you want to bake a cake, or follow your sweet sense to find some!


Be sure to stop by Designs by Gollum and see what’s being served this Friday &  Food for Thought and find out what everyone is reading & eating!


The Sugar Queen




The Sugar Queen ***.* by Sarah Addison Allen




I’m joining Jain with my Edible Book Review at Food for Thought, where in her words, pages from your book magically mix with the kitchen and your camera.




 and Michael Lee at Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday. . . the perfect little food corner in blogland.





Living in her mother’s shadow, Josey Cirrini,  finds solace in her secret stash of sugary sweets and stockpile of romance novels~


“But food was a comfort. It filled the hollow spaces. And it felt good to hide it, because then she could enjoy it alone without worrying about what others thought, or about letting her mother down.”


 Winter is her favorite time of year in the mountains of North Carolina, where she can bundle up, camouflaged in scarves and layered clothing.


“She stuck her head out and took a deep breath. If she could eat the cold air, she would. She thought cold snaps were like cookies, like gingersnaps. In her mind they were made with white chocolate chunks and had a cool, brittle vanilla frosting. They melted like snow in her mouth, turning creamy and warm.”






“It was embarrassing enough being such a sorry excuse for a Southern belle. Her weight, her unfortunate hair, her secret dreams of leaving her mother who needed her, of leaving and never looking back. Respectable daughters took care of their mothers. Respectable daughters did not hide enormous amounts of candy in their closets.”



Josey finds Della Lee, a local waitress in town, hiding in her closet amongst her candy stash. Della Lee takes up  residence, hiding out in Josey’s closet, promising to keep her candy stash a secret in exchange for a few favors.





 “Josey shook her head, thinking, if Della Lee were a candy, she would be a SweeTart. Not the hard kind that broke your teeth, the chewy kind, the kind you had to work on and mull over, your eyes watering and your lips turning up into a smile you didn’t want to give.”







 Della Lee sends Josey out for grilled cheese & tomato sandwich. . . 






 Josey meets Chloe, sandwich maker extraordinaire…


One of Chloe’s secrets is that since she was little, whether she liked it or not, books appeared when she needed them. (I should be so lucky~although, I have to admit this has happened on occasion~)












 Through Della Lee’ s influence, Josey begins to slowly come out of shell and realize there is a world waiting for her outside of her closet and her mother’s shadow.



 One of Josey’s many errands for her mother involves her taking her to tea with a friend where they have cucumber sandwiches and raspberry jam puffs~




 Paula Deen’s Benedictine Sandwiches








 If I made these sandwiches again, I would use half the amount of onion the recipe calls for~also, the cucumber and onion need to be drained well before mixing with cream cheese.




 Chocolate Raspberry Triangle Puffs








Chocolate Raspberry Triangle Puffs Recipe


  • Nutella (a hazelnut chocolate spread)

  • Raspberry Jam

  • Puff Pastry

  • 1 Egg, beaten with 1 Tablespoon of water for egg wash

  • Powdered Sugar (optional)


  1. Let Puff Pastry reach room Temp. per directions on box

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  3. Cut Puff Pastry into thirds both ways creating squares

  4. Add Nutella diagonally to each square

  5. Add Raspberry Jam

  6. Fold Puff Pastry diagonally, forming a triangle

  7.  Brush with egg wash and bake on parchment lined baking sheet

  8. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes

  9. Sprinkle powder sugar on top, and let cool.



  These were so easy and good~ but then it’s hard to go wrong with raspberry and chocolate!





This book was a quick, *sweet* read, blending food with a dash of magic, toss in a few secrets and surprises along the way~ which is Sarah Addison Allen’s trademark. While I liked it, I didn’t love it. I did love the candy chapters :-) and this quote:


“Books can be possessive, can’t they? You’re walking around in a bookstore and a certain one will jump out at you, like it had moved there on its own, just to get your attention. Sometimes what’s inside will change your life, but sometimes, you don’t even have to read it. Sometimes it’s a comfort just to have a book around.”






 Be sure to stop by Designs by Gollum and see what’s being served this Friday & Food for Thought to see what everyone is reading and eating.


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