The All You Can Dream Buffet – Review and Giveaway

Book info:
Title: The All You Can Dream Buffet
Author: Barbara O’Neal
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Random House
Pub date: 4 March 2014



Popular blogger and foodie queen Lavender Wills reigns over Lavender Honey Farms, a serene slice of organic heaven nestled in Oregon wine country. Lavender is determined to keep her legacy from falling into the profit-driven hands of uncaring relatives, and she wants an heir to sustain her life’s work after she’s gone. So she invites her three closest online friends—fellow food bloggers, women of varied ages and backgrounds—out to her farm. She hopes to choose one of them to inherit it—but who?

There’s Ginny, the freckle-faced Kansas cake baker whose online writing is about to lead her out of a broken marriage and into a world of sensual delights. And Ruby, young, pregnant, devoted to the organic movement, who’s looking for roots—and the perfect recipe to heal a shattered heart. Finally, Val, smart and sophisticated, a wine enthusiast who needs a fresh start for her teenage daughter after tragedy has rocked their lives. Coming together will change the Foodie Four in ways they could never have imagined, uniting them in love and a common purpose. As they realize that life doesn’t always offer a perfect recipe for happiness, they also discover that the moments worth savoring are flavored with some tears, a few surprises, and generous helping of joy.

My thoughts:

I absolutely loved this one – it’s all about women bloggers.  Barbara O’Neal uses some of their blog posts to tell parts of the story.  There are stories of the individuals and their lives and blogs and the thread of the single story that brings them all together.

An absolutely feel-good story about women finding themselves, following their passion – which mainly revolves around food and blogging – and creating their own future.

The recipes and pictures that the author has added are delightful too.

I received a free copy of the book in exchange for a review from NetGalley. The publisher, Random House has been kind enough to allow me to do a giveaway.  So ladies, put your hat in the ring for the chance to win a free copy of the e-book via NetGalley too.

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Maintaining Wellness: Healthy Food for a Healthy You Bingo

We love our food – but we’re always conscious of eating healthy. Consequently, we’re always looking out for ideas to eat healthy. I’ve come across a lot of interesting stuff in the recent past and decided to share it with you.

Healthy eating is one of the top resolutions this year, and this time around people vow to follow through – with all the diet-related diseases that cause distress on everyone, maintaining overall wellness has been a priority. Recent reports by CNN reveal that a healthy diet is not just a fad for most families; in fact, studies show that more people are improving their dieting habits. Findings by the US Department of Agriculture state that Americans are consuming fewer calories, and care more about the foods they buy.

I was pleasantly surprised to come across something called Healthy Food For A Healthy You Bingo.

Interested? Read on.

Healthy Food For A Healthy You Bingo

Though we’re geared towards food consciousness for a healthier lifestyle, we have to admit that picking healthy options will be a tad difficult, especially if we’re used to rich and saucy meals. To help us with this, USDA’s is encouraging citizens worldwide to participate in a game of “Healthy Food for a Healthy You” Bingo. Through this method, we will be motivated to opt for healthier alternatives — the bingo card has categories and measured food items instead of random numbers. We can keep track of our diet by marking off those which we’ve already eaten for the week, then reward ourselves with a prize if we’ve completely marked the card. The prize may not be as elaborate as Cheekybingo’s Wimbledon tickets or Disneyland trip for VIP winners — it may be as simple as a full-body massage or a new paperback, just to keep us motivated.

What does the “Healthy Food for a Healthy You” Bingo card look like? Health Edco created one, and grouped the food as follows:


· Choose Whole Grains – cooked oatmeal, mini bagel, cold cereal, corn tortilla, slice of bread

· Vary Your Vegetables – baby carrots, baked potato, black-eyed peas, broccoli, green beans

· Focus on Fruits – applesauce, banana, canned peaches, diced cantaloupe, fruit cocktail

· Get Calcium-rich Dairy – American cheese, cheddar cheese, string cheese, low-fat pudding, cottage cheese

· Go Lean with Protein – almonds, pinto beans, ground beef patty, hard-boiled egg, lean ham

Not only will these food items make us healthy, they will also provide a variety to the usual sources in each food group. Through this bingo game, eating healthier may prove to be a fun endeavor.

Making food fun – and staying healthy – what a great combination, don’t you think?


Reliable Recipes Online

5464689442_1949170fa2_mI really started cooking only a few years ago. I’m not crazy about it – but I do like to try new recipeshealthy, easy and most of all reliable ones.  While José has a healthy collection of recipe books – my resources are more the online variety. I have a new dish somewhere   – I decide I want to make it – I Google it – I find a recipe that sounds simple and it gets made. If it works well, the site is bookmarked for future use.  Why collect books and cuttings when you have such fantastic food blogs out there?

Here are a few of my go-to recipe blogs for healthy, everyday food that I thought I’d share with you today:

Sangeeta Khanna’s: Healthfood Desivideshi

I find Sangeeta’s recipes and food pictures irresistible.  Here’s a food blogger who knows her stuff and is so willing to share too.  Sangeeta gladly shared some of her recipes on Everyday Gyaan a couple of years ago and they were great. Sample a dinner she shared here. If you want a workable and personalized diet plan for yourself, do contact her here.


Healthfood desivideshi

I love Andhra food and Mahanandi is my absolutely favorite site for the various pachadis (chutneys) and podis (powders) that are an integral part of that cuisine.

Sia’s Monsoon Spice has some fantastic vegetarian recipes accompanied by her excellent photographs. Her site has a great indexing too.



José finds many recipes he wants to try out on The Guardian. Find link here.

What are your sources for reliable recipes?

Photo Credit: {deepapraveen very busy with work..back soon via Compfight cc

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Quintessential Goa


Yes, this is one of the famous Indian cartoonist, Mario Miranda‘s cartoons and is part of the decor in our home. Miranda was an excellent cartoonist, but he excelled himself when he came to scenes from Goa. Any Goan worth his salt can identify the quintessential characters he created. Either we know them personally or have heard about them at some point in time.

The Goans have been associated with being a laid-back lot of people.  They love their food, their drink and their music. But they’re also quite religious. Those of us whose ancestors were ‘forcibly’ converted to Roman Catholicism by the Portuguese colonialists are often more Catholic than the Romans! The scene in the cartoon is part of a larger tableau of a religious procession. The two guys up in front are commonly known as ‘irmãos’ (brothers) who carry candles and standards.  It is quite an honor to do that. When José was young, although he lived in Mumbai, his paternal grandfather asked for him to be outfitted in this cape and the young chap  was given the honor (or burden) of running around like the little guy in the procession.  José was a small irmão! 😉

Miranda’s Goa cartoons also displayed a lot of musicians and musical settings.  Music is another thing we Goans do very well.  Goa supplied violinists, pianists and a whole other lot of musicians to the Indian film industry for years. Goa too has its own film industry.  Two of the well-known and much loved Goan movies were made in the 1950s-60s. They are Amchem Noxib and Nirmon.  Although we spoke not a word of our native Konkani, we grew up listening to this song – Molbailo Doufrom the movie Amchem Noxib .  To this day, it evokes such a feeling of nostalgia within me.

I will always associate good humour with Goa too. I can still hear the voice of my grandfather telling me stories and funny incidents that took place in our native village, Saligao. This is one story though that my Dad told us. Apparently a group of men would hang around the tinto (market), gossiping about the other villagers and calling out to unsuspecting passers-by to include them in the conversation. The butt of their jokes was  Caithanin (Cajetan) who was having problems passing his High School exam. One day they called out to him, and the leader of the lot says: “Hey, Caithanin you failed again right? I’ll make a deal with you that if you pass your exams in the next attempt, I’ll buy you a cycle.”  Now the leader’s son  Bosthiaon (Sebastian), was apparently having problems completing his Medical course. So Caithanin without batting an eyelid says, “What are you saying? If your Bosthiaon finishes Medicine, I’ll build him a hospital!”

Many characters can be found  in the book Ferry Crossing too.

Good food in Goa……..I’ll leave that to José to elaborate on in our upcoming posts.


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Travel and Food

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener

Travel and food – they go together for me.

Last October we had the pleasure of visiting a quiet little town called Kumily in Kerala, South India. While we stayed there because of its proximity to the famous Periyar Tiger Reserve, we enjoyed our walks through the little town too.  Whenever we visit a new place, José and I make it a point to sample the local food.  So the first evening there we went to look for tea and snacks and here’s what we found.

These were kind of familiar and can be found in different parts of India  – a bun with a sweet filling – called Dilkush (which in Hindi means ‘to make your heart happy’. However, what made these different was the filling – a lot more coconut – which I love!

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 These are Thennai kozhakattai a sweet dumpling dish made of rice, coconut, jaggery/ sugar. We also tasted a sweet rice cake called vattayappam. Both of these were steamed – so they were easy on the stomach and made a good evening snack.

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Food is our common ground, a universal experience. ~James Beard (1903-1985) – an American chef and food writer

In this case it’s the tea that makes it a universal experience! 😉  José relished a good strong cup of it, unlike the lighter variety we have at home.

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Here’s the  shop in all its glory – Irfana Coffee House and Cool Bar –  at Kulathumpalam in Kumily, with its proud owner Zakir Hussain. He was most gracious in letting us take these pictures.  Notice all the banana wafers and tapioca chips in the packets on the counter in front. Fried in coconut oil, these too are a specialty of Kerala.

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The next day we were lucky to go to a biryani  festival in the town. Now there are various kinds of biryanis that unique to different parts of India and we got a chance to try quite a few of them.  Thalaserri biryani, particular to a region in Kerala, was one we hadn’t sampled before. It was rich with the spices that grown in Kerala – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. I was certain I got the distinct flavor of rose water too.

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By venturing out of our hotel as we usually do, and sampling the local food, we get to interact with the local people and find out more about the place and culture.

Are you adventurous with food when you travel?


I’m so glad to be the host of The Writer’s Post Thursday Blog Hop # 73. My prompt is rather long – but it’s open to interpretation.

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” ~ James Michener

Do join in and add the link to your post here:

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