Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday Salon: Trading Christmas, Pie, Tomatoes & Mozzarella

We have come to another Sunday Salon, a time to share our thoughts and feelings about the books we’ve enjoyed recently. 

I know my heading may seem a bit strange, but hopefully you’ll be pleasantly entertained. Top off that cup of coffee (or tea), settle back and relax. Once again I have several diverse reviews to share with you. 

TRADING CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber

As the holidays approach with rapid speed, I begin to think of Christmas and heart-warming stories.

TRADING CHRISTMAS by Debbie Macomber is a perfect pick for that. This story was originally published as WHEN CHRISTMAS COMES and has been made into a Hallmark Original movie.

Upset her daughter Heather isn’t coming home for Christmas, Emily Springer calls her best friend, Faith Kerrigan, to complain. Faith, distracted, seems to take Heather’s side upsetting Emily more. Emily decides she’ll surprise her daughter for Christmas. Emily scans the Internet finding a site where people trade homes for vacations. She connects with Charles Brewster, a Harvard professor in Boston. The two week trade is agreed upon and Emily begins her journey from Leavensworth, Washington to Boston.

Charles wants alone time to work on his writing and be away from all things Christmas. Leavensworth, a prison town, sounds perfect to the absent-minded professor. He doesn’t realize the prison town is in Kansas not Washington until he arrives. Emily’s Leavensworth is practically Santa’s village with all of its decorations and traditions.

Emily surprises her daughter only to be surprised herself. Heather is taking off to Florida with a new biker boyfriend. Emily is left all alone in Boston for Christmas.

Feeling bad she didn’t support her friend more, Faith decides to surprise Emily for Christmas and takes off for Leavensworth. Always the way she teams up with ‘Santa’ and his elves. When she arrives at Emily’s, she finds Charles instead and no way for her to return home until after the holidays.

Meanwhile, Charles’ mother calls his home and when Emily answers becomes frantic something is wrong. She contact her oldest son, Rayburn, in New York to check up on Charles and ‘this woman.’

The events that follow are hilarious and heart-warming. As the foursome comes to an understanding for Christmas, even Heather has some new insight into her adventures. While the ending may be a bit predictable, it’s the journey to get there that is fun and entertaining. The supporting characters add extra layers of delight to this story.

The narration by Renee Raudman brings these lovable characters to life and gives them depth. She makes you feel their emotions as these characters face a holiday they don’t want but will never forget.

Author Debbie Macomber’s website is

Trading Christmas by Debbie Macomber, Read by Renee Raudman, Brilliance Audio, @2011, ISBN: 978-1455841523, Unabridged, 5 Discs, Listening Time: 5 Hours 30 Minutes

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

PIE by Ken HaedrichPie_FPO2

When it comes to cookbooks, I have always been more of a collector than a user.

I have finally found a cookbook that will get plenty of use, as well as being a great addition to my collection. PIE by Ken Haedrich is a must have cookbook for anyone who has ever or plans to venture into a kitchen.

The cookbook contains 300 delicious no-fail recipes of ever imaginable pie. The recipes include All Strawberry Pie, Blackberry Silk Pie, Trail Mix Peanut Butter Pie, Funeral Pie, and Green Tomato-Mincemeat Pie just to name a few.

The first section of the book gives detailed instructions on how to prepare the perfect pie crust from scratch and what to do to repair store bought shells that crack. Another section is devoted to ‘Pie Pastries and Crumb Crust,’ while there is entire section on ‘Make Mine Apple.’ The recipes are broken into categories such as classic, berry, nut, custard, ice box, and more.

The recipes are written in simple step-by-step instructions. Each also features a short paragraph about the pie and a Recipe For Success block that highlights tips on making each pie perfect. In addition, bits of cooking potpourri is scattered throughout the book. This covers such topics as the first pumpkin pies, faux chocolate curls, buttermilk 101, and thoughts on chess pie.

The only think I found lacking in this book was photographs of all the pies. There are several gorgeous full page photos of a few of the pies. To me, however, smaller photos of all the recipes would be more helpful. The lack of photos does not take away from the terrific cookbook though.

PIE is a must have cookbook for any baker’s library and a perfect gift this holiday season.

More information on author Ken Haedrich can be found at

Pie by Ken Haedrich, The Harvard Common Press, @2011, ISBN: 9781558322547, Paperback, 656 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

by Hallie Harron and Shelley Sikora

TomatoesMozzarellaWanting to savor the taste of summer harvest long into winter, I’ve discovered a cookbook to help make that happen.

The authors begin this delightful cookbook with a detailed look at tomatoes and mozzarella. The book is then divided into such chapters as ‘Salads for All Season,’ ‘Savory Soups and Sandwiches,’ ‘Tea-Time Tomatoes and Mozzarella,’ and ‘Pasta Pomodori.’

The recipes are easy to follow with step-by-step instructions and a clear list of ingredients. There is also a brief introduction to each recipe.

Some of the tantalizing recipes include: Spring Tomato and Bread Casserole, Pasta Vesuvio, Tomato Chickpea Chowder, Crispy Tomozz Turnovers, and Deviled Tomatoes. The recipes cover every time of day from morning meals to late-night snacks. No matter the season, there’s a recipe to delight the taste buds.

Throughout the cookbook there are beautiful, vivid color photographs of the dishes by Richard Eskite.

This charming cookbook will be a must-have for anyone who enjoys the zany taste of tomatoes and the delicious sensation of mozzarella. There’s even a recipe for making your own fresh mozzarella.

More information on author Hallie Harron can be found at and more on author Shelley Sikora can be found at

Tomatoes & Mozzarella: 100 Ways To Enjoy This Tantalizing Twosome All Year Long by Hallie Harron and Shelley Sikora, The Harvard Common Press, @2011, ISBN: 9781558327405, Paperback, 176 pages

FTC Full Disclosure - I requested this book and it was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.

I hope I have sparked an interest for one or more of these delightful books. What was on your reading schedule this past week? Have a wonderful and safe Sunday. As always, thanks so much for stopping by.


  1. These sound like delightful like reading and cooking that maybe even I could do. Thanks, as always, Mason.

  2. Pie! Give me pie! What a great sounding book. I will check it out, thanks Mason.

  3. Pie! Give me pie! What a great sounding book. I will check it out, thanks Mason.

  4. Mason - Oooh, not one but two cookbooks! Thanks! Some of these sound absolutely delicious :-). There goes my diet! ;-)

  5. Trading Christmas sounds like a fun read. I like all the twists and turns, with who knows who showing up on everyone's doorstep!

  6. The covers alone get my mouth watering! Great reviews, Mason, for a Sunday that's a beautiful autumn day where I live!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror, A Memoir of Shattered Secrets

  7. I think Trading Christmas could reconcile me with this time of the year for a couple of hours.

  8. What a nice trio of books! I do love a good pie. I hadn't heard of Funeral Pie though and did a quick look up. (Not too sure if I'd like it. It seems to be a sugar pie. - And raisins are meant to be eaten as a snack. Once they go into anything it's just icky.)


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