Friday, February 2, 2024

Ali Rosen's Food and Fiction



LUCY BURDETTE: I love novels based on food and cooking and chefs, so I was thrilled to come across Ali Rosen’s first novel about a recipe writer attending the wedding of a close friend in Italy. Aside from fiction, Ali writes cookbooks and she’s brought a recipe from Italy’s Amalfi coast. We’ll be giving away a copy of her first novel, RECIPE FOR SECOND CHANCES, in the Reds and Readers Facebook group today. Welcome Ali!!

ALI ROSEN: It’s such a joy to get to share with this beautiful community, and today I want to start a conversation about the intersection of food and novels.

Reading and food are certainly among life’s great pleasures - so it’s not an accident I’ve tried to make a career where I get to do both! But as a novelist and a cookbook author, I often get asked if the writing is different. Of course in many ways it is, but I like to say that they’re more similar than you’d imagine, because both are telling a story. It’s just in a different format.

I do believe that food helps us see the world more clearly. Just like in novels or memoirs, we can tangibly experience someone else’s worldview through their food. So why not add food into our books? Why not make the food a character? I love a food-focused novel because it gives me the best of both worlds. And it’s for the same reason that I love a cookbook that also shares a perspective and a story. All any of us want is to experience more of humanity, and our food stories allow us to do that.

I cheated a little bit in my debut novel, Recipe for Second Chances, because the protagonist, Stella, is a recipe writer like me. So I was able to weave in my love of food through her. But I think it’s the perfect way to view the world—bright, alive, delicious, ever-changing, filled with possibilities. Recipe for Second Chances is a love story set at an Indian-Italian wedding in the Umbrian Countryside. But it’s also a story of growing up, friendship and trusting ourselves. It’s a little slice of womanhood and romance set in a dreamy location. And the food is the glorious sea it all floats across.

My most recent cookbook is called 15 Minute Meals— and if it has a story it’s the one of an overworked busy mom who just wants to get dinner on the table. That’s as relatable as relatable can be right? So for you guys I wanted to not only chat about books, but also share a recipe. And since one of my favorite recipes from 15 Minute Meals is as Italian-inspired as Recipe for Second Chances, I figured this Amalfi Lemon Pasta would be the perfect one to share. I hope you can pick up my novel (or look for my next one Alternate Endings, which swaps Italy for gorgeous Ireland!) and maybe make a recipe too. And hopefully through food we can all learn a bit more about each other.

I’d love to know: what are some of your favorite food-focused novels?

Without further ado, here’s a recipe! Thanks so much for letting me join in on your discussions.

Amalfi Lemon Pasta




Italy’s Amalfi coast is known for its abundance of lemons. They’re a different variety to the ones we find commonly here, but this lemon pesto is based on that vivid fantasy of sunshine, seaside and lemony goodness. Try to get organic lemons if you can because they tend to have more vibrant rinds.



Ingredients

2 large lemons

2 tablespoons parsley

1 pound angel hair pasta

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus additional

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

1 cup sliced almonds

Bring a pot of salted water to boil (try to add only as much as is needed to cover the pasta). While waiting, zest the lemons - get as much of the yellow rind without getting any of the white pith. Chop the parsley and set aside.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for the allotted time (typically around 3 to 4 minutes). Make the pesto: juice both lemons into a blender and add half the zest. Add the salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the parmesan, olive oil, half the almonds and blend.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain it (although retain a bit of the pasta water in case you want to loosen the sauce later). Add the pesto, remaining zest and the almonds into the pasta and combine — add in a dash of pasta water as needed. Top with the parsley, an additional dash of fresh pepper and serve hot.

About Ali Rosen:

Ali Rosen is a bestselling writer of both cookbooks and novels, and is the Emmy and James Beard Award-nominated host of Potluck with Ali Rosen on NYC Life. Her first novel is the #1 Amazon romance Recipe for Second Chances and her second, Alternate Endings, is coming May 7th. She is also the author of the cookbooks 15 Minute Meals, Modern Freezer Meals and Bring It!. She's been featured everywhere from The Today Show to The New York Times and has written for publications including Bon Appetit, Wine Enthusiast and New York Magazine. She is originally from Charleston, SC but now lives in New York City with her husband and three kids and can usually be found cooking in her kitchen or curled up in a chair reading a romance novel.

Follow Ali on Instagram


About Recipe for Second Chances:




Stella Park is elated to celebrate her best friend’s wedding in the Italian countryside—and maybe she also needs this escape from her personal and her professional life. Writing recipes for a living isn’t all it’s cooked up to be.

But the revelry is short lived when she runs into the ex she hasn’t seen since she broke his heart ten years ago, Samuel Gordon. As her past gets propelled to the forefront, Stella tries not to question the choices she made a decade ago.

When Stella and Samuel keep getting pushed together during a weekend filled with delectable food, Indian and Italian wedding traditions, and unplanned detours in gorgeous locales, she attempts to ignore that maybe he really was the one that got away.

Playing it safe has always been Stella’s dependable rule book. But maybe Samuel is worth the risk—and perhaps some love stories just need more time to marinate.

About Alternate Endings:




Beatrice Leal’s personal life is complicated between her divorce and her precocious six-year-old. But the job she loves is the one thing she counts on to be straightforward—that is, until her boss’s own divorce prompts a move from NYC back to Ireland.

Now Bea’s in Ireland twice a month for work. It’s wreaking havoc on the custody agreement she and her moody ex are sorting out while he lives downstairs in the brownstone they co-own. And to top it off, her company’s new CTO turns out to be the boy who once broke her heart: Jack Sander.

It’s been twenty years since Bea and Jack saw each other. Their lives are both messy. So when they hook up one night in Ireland, they plan to just keep it a work fling that stays there. But the more time they spend together, the more Bea wonders if happiness might not always mean needing to have your life in order.

73 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Thanks for the recipe, Ali . . . yum! I'm looking forward to reading Stella's and Beatrice's stories . . . .
    Favorite food-focused novels? Lucy's Hayley Snow books and Jenn’s Cupcake Bakery Mysteries; Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen books . . . .

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    1. Yes this group really has some amazing options for foodie mysteries!

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  3. Thank you for that delicious recipe! A small independent Italian restaurant I used to eat at when I had a day job offered a wonderful lemony angel hair pasta that they mixed with capers and added artichoke hearts and chicken I think. I ordered it every time. Your book sounds delightful.

    I love mysteries that are centered around food. Lucy's come to mind first off.

    I also write two cozy series myself that include recipes. One features the owner chef of a country store breakfast and lunch restaurant. My tall skinny partner loves my recipe testing and more than one person has said they wished they could eat in that restaurant.

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    1. My company logo is an artichoke so I would LOVE that!

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    2. I love your cozy series Edith - I have to restart reading them. They are so much fun!

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  4. Some of my favorite foodie authors are Lucy Burdette, Cleo Coyle, Jenn McKinlay and Joanne Fluke plus Diane Mott Davidson. I have tried a few recipes from some of the books I have read, I don't remember which ones. I made a vegetable quiche and pumpkin chocolate chip muffins which I took both to a big family gathering and everyone loved them. I even had requests for the next get together to make them again. Every cozy that I read that includes recipes, I always read all the recipes to hopefully find something new that I can make and to try something different.

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    1. It's so fun when you read a book and there's recipes at the end - it definitely inspired me to do it in my books! Now I want some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins haha

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  5. The recipe sounds wonderful! And easy, which is a must for me!

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    1. that was for sure the goal of 15 Minute Meals - easy but flavorful!

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  6. love the cover, especially the yellow one.

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    1. the artist is Sarah Horgan - she's really done some of my favorite book covers so I was THRILLED when they had her doing mine!

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  7. ALI: I am a foodie who is obsessed with eating eclectic food, collecting cookbooks, trying new recipes.
    As a lemon lover, I will definitely try making your lemon pasta recipe.

    And like several others, I enjoy reading culinary cozies & used the recipes in their books. I first started reading mysteries by Diane Mott Davidson and Katherine Hall Page in the early 1990s.

    Of course, I enjoy reading REDS Lucy's Key West & Jenn's cupcake mysteries as well as regular commenters such as Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell. Some new culinary cozy authors I enjoy reading include Mia P. Manansala, Korina Moss, Raquel V. Reyes, and Cathy Wiley.

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    1. Sounds like we'd get along! I'll need to check out some of the authors you mentioned that I haven't read yet

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  8. Ali, I loved Recipes for Second Chances! The blending of the Italian and Indian cultures was done in a beautifully evocative way, and of course the food descriptions made me swoon. The romance was equally delicious! Thank you for the recipe. It sounds divine.

    Diane Mott Davidson's Dying for Chocolate was my entry into foodie mysteries, way back in 1992. Someone who knew of my chocoholic tendencies gave me the book, and Goldy's theme cooking caught my imagination as much as the characters and crimes did. That was the first series I knew about with recipes; several years ago Diane put out a cookbook with most of them included.

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    1. Karen that is so kind - thank you so much! Especially from women in this group who have access to some of the best writers around! I really appreciate you saying that. Also Dying for Chocolate is such a delightful title, I need to check that one out!

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    2. You are very welcome, Ali.

      All Diane's titles are great, especially since she was one of the early foodie cozy authors. I suspect it is a LOT harder to come up with catchy titles now.

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    3. And you are so right about our JRW foodies, including Edith Maxwell and other commenters. Such delicious riches!

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  9. I am putting your books in my tbr list. The next best thing to actual travel is food and fiction! I’m also giving the Almalfi Lemon pasta to my husband who is our household chef. Having been to Almadi this past April as part of a trip of a lifetime, I know it will be a hit.
    Besides, Jenn’s cupcakes and Lucy’s Key West books, I like Nancy CoCo’s Candy-Coated series set on Mackinac Island. Reading them takes me right back there to the fudgy aroma in the air.

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    1. Oh thank you so much - I hope you enjoy that! That's always my goal with my books - let people armchair travel a bit! And what a joy to have that Amalfi trip - I'm already dreaming up my next one!

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  10. I have so many favorite food focused novels, too many to name! Thank you for sharing the recipe, and the book sounds awesome!

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  11. I’d love to know: what are some of your favorite food-focused novels?

    I enjoyed reading l'Appart by David Lebovitz and some of his other books that combine his adventures/life in Paris with recipes.

    I've made a few of Lucy Burdette's recipes from her Key West series. I also liked Jenn's library series with recipes.

    Dorothy Sayers' & Agatha Christie's books often had food related deaths (no recipes) but mushrooms figured prominently.

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    1. Oh (from above) how could I forget Bruno (the chef of police) in France. In real life the author (Martin Walker) and his wife have published a cookbook featuring Bruno's recipes which won a German chefs award.

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    2. I also love David Leibovitz - he's such an evocative writer and it's glorious to get to imagine his Parisian expat life!

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    3. Ali, I was fortunate enough to go on one of David's last Parisian food tours. So amazing!

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    4. Lucy - we want to know more. Where did you go, what food did you try, ........... !!

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    5. Yes to Bruno! I brought back a tiny jar of truffle from the Périgord so I could try his famous truffle omelette.

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    6. Hope it turned out well Lisa! I remember eating the wonderful truffle omelettes in the Perigord region many years ago too. The truffles there are the best and hard to beat anywhere else. Maybe it's the atmosphere, or who knows, but they just tasted better.

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  12. I love Lucy Burdette's Key West Food Critic mysteries and have tried several of the recipes. Yummy.
    Maddie Day/Edith Maxwell's Country Store Mysteries include several enticing recipes that have found there way into my mixing bowls.
    For all things Cup Cake, including Joe's nick name for Melanie, I will go to Jenn McKinlay's Cup Cake Bakery series. I also thank her for writing the romances that brought me back to that genre after a 50 year absence.
    Ali, I welcome your romances with recipes and am off to look for RECIPE FOR SECOND CHANCES.

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    1. Thank you! I'm a big fan of Jenn's romcoms but seems like I need to go revisit the cupcake bakery series!!

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  13. I loved Food for Love and The Wedding Officer by Anthony Capelli (I think that's the right spelling). Both make you hungry just reading them!

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  14. I love Katherine Hall Page and Dianne Mott Davidson. So fun when they include recipes!

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    1. I totally agree! I always want recipes at the end!

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  15. Your books sound very fun, Ali! Leslie Karst's Sally Solari series comes to mind as food-centered fun, as does Lucy's Haley Snow series. Debs' books include lots of great food, while not necessarily being food-centered, as does Donna Leon's Guido Brunetti series. Guido is always very happy when he comes home for lunch and Paola has made one of his favorite dishes.

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    1. I love anything Italian so I'll have to check them out!

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  16. Ali,

    Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I would love to try that recipe.

    Look forward to reading your Recipes for Second Chances.

    Love the Secret, Book and Scone Society mysteries by Ellery Adams. There is a character who bakes scones and anyone who eats the scone will have memories (either good or bad). Love the process of baking / cooking in Ellie Alexander's the Bakeshop Series set in Ashland, Oregon. The food in The Cajun Country mysteries by Ellen Byron sounds yummy. The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove by Karen Hawkins is part of a series about seven sisters in a town that was saved by their great great great grandmother.

    Loved Dianne Mott Davidson's Goldie mysteries with the wonderful yummy food. Leslie Karst's Sally Solari mysteries reminded me of Italian food that I loved.

    I remembered Like Water For Chocolate so vividly because the cook would be cooking or baking something with emotion. If she is crying, then people who eat the food she made while crying, would start crying. I wonder if this happened in real life? Or if it is magical realism?

    Diana

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    1. Oh man, that book really stuck with me too!!

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    2. Bibliophile - I loved Like Water for Chocolate. It was a great book and more that just a cooking protagonist. It captured the Mexican spirit life style and how friends and family members relate to each other.

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  17. In addition the recipe-filled books from some of the Reds, I never miss Cleo Coyle's coffeehouse mysteries. Ali, I wish you much success with your books--they look delicious!

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  18. Thank for the recipe, Ali. Sounds simply yummy. I've read books that include both food and a craft theme or shop theme. Laura Childs, Sally Goldenbaum, Betty Hechtman, Lucy, Jenn, Edith, Martin, Louise Penny .... The list seems to be getting longer and longer. Some authors are annual reads, others are hit and miss because there are so many books and not enough time. I love reading the recipes when they are included. And travel with food, well that a whole category of fun and adventure. And your name is now added to my list of authors to check out.

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    1. So many books and not enough time truly is the story of my life hahaha

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  19. From Celia: Welcome Ali, I am off to find your books. I did recognize your name so am sure that we have touched reading-wise in the past. That is you writing and me reading! Our lovely JRW's books are well known so I will mention one novel I loved by Ruth Reichl - Delicious! I was so fascinated by the story which is rather than a detective tale as they are looking for the recipe author. I've never had the courage to make the marmalade cake though I would love to eat it. My fav mystery author after JRW's of course, is Maddie Day/Edith whose Country Kitchen series I do love and enjoy reading about short order cooking and the perils therein. Another mystery writer from the past that taught me to rethink how I scrambled eggs was Ellery Queen with Nero Wolfe. It took Wolfe forty minutes to make the eggs just the creamiest he required and I still wish I could take that time to see if I could replicate the result. But as I scan my bookshelves I see lots of food memoirs, MFK Fisher, Elizabeth David, Anthony Bourdain who made a lot of the foodie world come alive, Ruth Reichl, Frances Mays and Michael Ruhlmanto name a few. But in novels y ind goes way back to Wind in the Willows and the picnic, not to forget the caroling mice and Toads hot buttered toast when he's in jail. And for atmosphere The Lord of the Rings. In Book 1, the joy of hot baths after a frightening day of avoiding the enemy, to be followed by freshly picked field mushrooms on toast for supper. An oasis of calm before the work ahead.

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    1. I LOVE Ruth Reichl's writing - although she did write once about her affair with my old boss so sometimes it's hard for me to try and not think about that when I read her writing! hahahhahah

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    2. Celia, you've picked some of my favorite book/food scenes. I was so disappointed in the film version of LOTR because they left out all the food scenes... And my daughter and I are going to see Ruth Reichl speak here in Dallas in May. We're so excited!

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    3. Yikes! I was going to say I like her writing, too! Well, she didn’t have an affair with my boss so I guess I can keep reading her work! (Though my boss did have an affair with a colleague. What is it with people in positions of power? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother topic!!) — Pat S

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    4. That's funny Ali! I am so looking forward to Ruth's next novel.

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  20. First, both those novels look, well, delicious! And I'll be interested in what Ali makes of Irish food in ALTERNATE ENDINGS, since once you get past the baked goods, it's not traditionally known as a culinary hot spot. (Don't hate me, anyone of Irish descent - my family was Scots, and they only have ONE tasty baked good!)

    From a writer's perspective, food can reveal so much about a character. What do they like, how long will they spend cooking, do they cherish recipes from an old Nona or do they want to be strictly up-to date?

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    1. So glad you mentioned that because I actually was SHOCKED by the Irish culinary scene the first time I went. It was so much more vibrant than I expected -and the seafood was incredible!! There's definitely quite a few baked goods in Alternate Endings hahah

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  21. Lucy's books are so appetizing, and Louise Penny's Three Pines gatherings also feature great food. These could be good therapy perhaps for those with flagging appetites -- books as medicine, why not? I will be adding Ali Rosen books to Mt. TBR and to suppertime ideas as well. <3

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  22. Ali - These books sound wonderful.I've set romcoms in both Italy and Ireland and loved every bit of the research :) Ireland was a culinary delight, which most people don't understand until they've been there! Can't wait to read your take on both of these fabulous places!

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    1. Jenn! I'm such a big fan of your romcoms - Paris is Always a Good Idea is truly one of my most recommended, I love the locales. And can't wait for YOUR next Irish book soon!

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    2. We loved Ireland too Jenn. We enjoyed the pubs because the Irish are so welcoming with the jokes, the laughter, eytc. -- it was just such a fun place to be even though we were tourists they still included us! I loved Dublin particularly and it seems a perfect place to be if you're a university student.

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    3. Jenn! I adore your romcoms - I recommend them to everyone. I can't wait for YOUR new Irish one this spring!

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  23. Another great cozy mystery writer is Valerie M. Burns. Her newest series is The Baker Street Mystery. The main character, Maddy Montgomery inherits a bakery from her grandmother along with Baby a sweet & lovable mastiff. The recipes are great too.

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    1. oooh those look so good! I was thinking Baker Street was a Sherlock Holmes reference but now I'm super intrigued. Immediately added to my TBR

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    2. Yes Ali, the writer Valerie Burns is a big fan of Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie. V.M.Burns also has a series with the protagonist Samantha Washington who owns a bookstore and bakery in the upper mid-west area.
      In one of her books the victim is bashed with a heavy tome -- The Complete Works of Agatha Christie!!

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  24. Yum! Congratulations on your latest. I feel in love with food cozies with the first Diane Mott Davidson book. Still make some of those recipes. Please don't enter me in the drawing - I've already devoured and enjoyed Recipe for Second Chances.

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  25. That recipe looks so good! I love second chance stories. One book with incredible food and setting is Mary Bly's Lizzie & Dante.

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    1. Darn it. I'm signed out again. Pat D.

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  26. We loved travelling in Italy and were amazed by the size of the lemons in the Amalfi region! I can't wait to try this recipe. When we travel, I look to purchase cookbooks published by local communities or churches to learn about the food as well as the culture. This is so different from those that I can purchase here in the states at home. I have put Ali Rosen on my TBR list and will also check out her 15 Minute Meals Cookbook as I need some help there.

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    1. Right!? The lemons in Amalfi are unreal! It makes you realize how limited our view of everything is. That's the joy of travel!

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    2. I purchased my organic lemons at Trader Joe's yesterday for a dinner this week!

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  27. The recipe looks delicious! I love lemon in recipes, it really adds a touch of brightness to a dish. Some food centered series I enjoy are The Cupcake series by Jenn Mckinlay and The Mackinac Island Fudge Shop Mysteries by Nancy Coco.

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  28. Hi Ali! I love anything with lemon, and I love second chance stories! And novels that revolve around food, so I am all in here! Are the Amalfi lemons more like our Meyer lemons?

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    1. They have a similar punch of extra flavor but they are MUCH larger than a meyer lemon!

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  29. Such great reading suggestions. One of the series w recipes that I love is the Diva series by Krista Davis. I will be looking for Ali’s book, sounds grand.

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