book review, recipe

Castle of Water + Banana Fritters

I have never before had to request that my library purchase I book I wanted to read, but for Dane Huckelbridge’s Castle of Water, I’m SO glad I took the extra step to do so. I had selected this novel as part of the Book Challenge by Erin not only because it fit perfectly into the category “book with a water-related word in the title” but because I had heard amazing things about it. Its impressive 4.24 rating on Goodreads also promised an amazing read.

Castle of Water by Dane Hucklebridge

The majority of the story takes place on an island in the middle of the South Pacific, near where a small plane was was downed in the ocean, leaving two passengers stranded. Sophie is a newlywed French architect, and Barry is a former investment banker from New York who has decided to turn his attention to painting. They must learn to survive together with the limited resources they have on the island — for food, they have some fish, coconuts and an abundance of bananas. It’s a castaway story, yes. But it’s also much more than that. It’s about what it means to truly need someone else. Ultimately, they find that a home is what you make it.

Dane Huckelbridge’s writing was wonderful. It had a steady, engrossing rhythm that allowed me to get entirely lost in the story. Though the subject matter was serious, there were elements of fun that made it human and entertaining. I still find myself thinking about this novel, even though I read it in an afternoon almost a month ago.

The survivors proved to be quite resourceful, using everything they could for everything it could produce. Their diet became much more varied than one may expect, but obviously, it made sense to use bananas in my chosen recipe for this novel, because they were “the only thing on the island, excluding sand and sunlight, that was always in abundant supply.” In fact, Barry’s favorite food comes to be banana fritters.

I found a recipe using both bananas and coconuts on The Kitchn and set to work. First, I chopped my ripe bananas and then stirred them together with the flour, cornstarch, coconut, sugar, baking powder, and salt. To that mixture, I also added the milk, vanilla and egg yolks.

Banana Fritter Batter Unmixed

I used a potato masher to combine and form a thick batter.

Banana Fritter Batter

Using a medium springform scoop (about 2 TBSP), I added large dollops of the batter into heated oil in my Dutch oven carefully so it wouldn’t splatter. I fried 4 of them at a time, turning once over the 2-3 minutes to ensure even cooking and coloring.

Banana Fritters Frying

Once each batch was finished, I fished them out with a slotted spoon and placed them on a plate lined with paper towel to allow them to drain.

Banana Fritters

When all of the fritters were done, I allowed them to cool for about 5 minutes before sprinkling with powdered sugar and serving.

Banana Coconut Fritters

They were delicious. The outside had a crisp initial bite while the inside was light and flavorful.

Banana-Coconut Fritter

Banana Coconut Fritters

Course Breakfast
Keyword banana
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • Clean peanut or canola oil for frying
  • 1 cup chopped packed ripe bananas (approximately 2 medium)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut or up to 1/2 cup, if desired
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup milk plus more as needed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for serving

Directions

  1. Fill a Dutch oven or cast iron pot with a few inches of peanut or canola oil and heat on medium-high until it reaches 375°F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the bananas, flour, cornstarch, coconut, sugar, baking powder, and salt, followed by the egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. Combine the mixture using a potato masher until it becomes a thick yet viscous batter, adding more milk — tablespoon by tablespoon — if necessary.
  3. Using a springform ice cream scoop to form the fritters, carefully lower 4 to 5 dollops of batter into the hot fry oil at a time (I gently slip the scoop into the oil, then release the batter by squeezing the clamp a few times). Cook, flipping once, until the fritters are a nice golden-brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the fritters with a slotted spoon or spider, shaking off excess oil back into the pot, and place on a paper towel-lined sheet pan to cool.
  4. Continue with the remaining batches, making sure to return the oil to 375°F in between batches. Let fritters cool for 5 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle generously with powdered sugar and serve warm.

Recipe Notes

From: The Kitchen

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book review, recipe

Homegoing + African Yam and Peanut Soup

My book club recently selected Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a book that was selected in one of my other book clubs last year. It’s a book that’s gotten a lot of attention and praise since its release, and though it has an appealing premise, I’ve not felt compelled to read it — until now. I didn’t read it last time, but I knew I couldn’t neglect it again. I dove right in and didn’t look back.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Gyasi’s sweeping novel is about two half-sisters separated at birth and their descendants. Effia and Esi are born in different villages in eighteenth century Ghana. They share the same mother but have different fathers and very different upbringings. Effia marries an Englishman and lives her life in a castle on the African country’s coast. Esi, however, is sold into slavery, passing through the castle’s dungeons on her way to America. Each chapter following their own focuses on an immediate descendent for generation after generation.

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book review, recipe

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus + Chocolate-Date Pudding Cake

Hannah Lynn’s second novel The Afterlife of Walter Augustus was actually brought to my attention when the author herself reached out to me with a thoughtful email that mentioned our shared love of books (of course!) and cooking. Her description of the novel, which she self-published, sounded intriguing and I happily agreed to participate in her blog tour to celebrate and promote its release!

The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

Walter Augustus, our main character, is stuck in what’s known as The Interim, a sort of waiting room in the afterlife where you’re unable to move on until every last person on earth has forgotten about you. While to some that might be flattering — and I can imagine he’s surrounded by quite a few celebrities, inventors and change-makers — to Walter, it’s frustrating. He really just wants to move on so he can see his wife and family again.

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of interest

Interview with Hannah Lynn, Author of The Afterlife of Walter Augustus

For those of you stopping by as part of the blog tour for The Afterlife of Walter Augustus, welcome! I was so pleased to be given the opportunity to read and review Hannah Lynn’s latest novel (review + book-inspired recipe here), which I found charming and original. I was also excited to be able to interview Hannah and learn a little bit more about her process and the book in my first ever author interview.

Have you always been a big reader?

Yes, in away. I remember getting my school’s suggested reading lists for the holidays and trying to get through as many as the titles as possible. I then moved on to binge reading different authors, which I still do occasionally. During university, I fell out of the habit of reading for pleasure, and it took a while to find my way back. Fortunately I met my husband, who is an English teacher, shortly after, and we instantly bonded over books.

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book review, recipe

How to Walk Away + S’mores Brownies

Sometimes I hear so many good things about a book that I request it from the library without even really seeing what it’s about, and that’s exactly what happened in the case of Katherine Center’s How to Walk Away. I’m glad I took the leap of faith because it turned out to be absolutely wonderful.

This novel is about a young woman who’s at the top of her game – Margaret has just finished her MBA, she has a lucrative and exciting job lined up, and she thinks her long-time boyfriend Chip is going to propose. However, on what is supposed to be a happy, celebratory day in her life, everything comes crashing down.

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of interest

Show Us Your Books – July 2018

It’s the second Tuesday of the month, and you know what that means; it’s time for another edition of Show Us Your Books! Before I get into the list, I’m going to warn you it’s a long one! I went on a reading binge of sorts and have basically read a book every day over the last 12 days. I never thought I’d say this but I need a little break… there is such a thing as reading overload. My mind has been to SO many places and back. And, I think, it’s the perfect time to catch up on the last couple of episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale in time for the finale.  

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book review, recipe

Artful Eating + Sauteed Scallops with Peas

For anyone who knows about my recent journey to transform my eating and lifestyle to one that’s healthier yet still fulfilling from a food perspective (which I chronicled briefly here), you’ll understand why I was excited to get my hands on this next book: Karina Melvin’s Artful Eating.

In it, she talks about why “lasting weight loss is not about what you eat; it’s about how and why you eat.”

Artful Eating by Karina Melvin

Whether you’re trying to lose weight, or trying to be overall healthier – like myself – it’s important to focus on making a more permanent lifestyle change rather than seeking a “quick fix.” Karina’s book is full of resources to help you do just that. Each of the twelve chapters is part of a bigger picture to help you accomplish a new mindset to accomplish your goals. They also includes recipes that are smart and sensible but also satisfying.

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book review, recipe

The Oracle Year + Stir-Fried Lotus Root

In Charles Soule’s first novel The Oracle Year, the comic book writer explores a clever concept about the power of prediction. The main character, Will Dando, is a twenty-something musician who wakes up one morning with 108 predictions about the future. The predictions range from seemingly innocuous to world-changing and extremely specific to frustratingly vague.

The Oracle Year by Charles Soule

While man behind The Oracle is a mystery, his predictions are practically front page news around the globe. As more and more of them come true, he is forced to go to great lengths to remain anonymous for his own safety. It’s a delicate balance between sitting on what he knows and sharing it with the world as he learns whether he has control over their source, or it has control over him.

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of interest

Summer Reading Challenges: Book Challenge by Erin 9.0 + Comment Challenge

New Reading Challenge

As you may recall, I kicked off the year by participating in the Book Challenge by Erin, version 8.0, which lasted from January 1 until April 30. And now, I’m excited to be participating in version 9.0 of the same challenge because I really love reading challenges. Here are the details:

Duration: July through October 2018

Challenge: Choose 10 books across specific categories and read as many of them as you can over the four month challenge period

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

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book review, recipe

The Keeper of Lost Things + Iced Buns

Many have commented on the beauty of this book cover. Indeed, Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things does feature some gorgeous floral artwork on the cover, and actually that’s part of what brought me to it in the first place. The title, too, is intriguing. What exactly is a keeper of lost things? What sort of lost things are being kept?

The Keeper of Lost Things Book Cover

In the novel, Anthony is an elderly man who has become a self-appointed keeper of lost things. Since losing something very important decades earlier, he has made it his mission in life to rescue discarded, dropped or forgotten things. He brings them home, where they live safely and quietly in his study, until they can be reunited with their owners someday, somehow.

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