Monday, March 4, 2013

Book Review: Lake Eden Cookbook by Joanne Fluke

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Delicious recipes that are easy to make
Cons: None
The Bottom Line:
Some new recipes
Delicious classics also
E'ryone will enjoy

All the Recipes from the First Ten Hannah Swensen Mysteries All in One Place

Fans of the Hannah Swensen Mystery series know that each book comes with delicious recipes to try after you've finished the story.  But after a few years, it's hard to remember which recipes were in which book.  Wouldn't it be great to have them all in one place?  Obviously, author Joanne Fluke agreed because she's just published Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook: Hannah Swensen's Recipes from the Cookie Jar.

This book collects the recipes from the first ten books in the series, starting with Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder and finishing with Carrot Cake Murder.  And yes, that includes the recipes from the extra novella in the special edition of Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder.  But this isn't a complete retread to recipes.  By my count, there are 23 never before published recipes to bring the total to 145.

Since the character Hannah Swensen owns a cookie shop, the majority of the recipes are cookies but there are a few pie and cake recipes and even some appetizers and easy to make main courses.  There's a Mexican Hot Dish recipe and a new Lobster Bisque soup.  There's even a Chicken Salad recipe.

But really, if you are looking for desserts, this is the book for you.  I love the Peach Cobbler and Cherry Cheesecake.  Plus I'm tempted by the new Tapioca Cheesecake recipe.  On the cookie front, there are old favorites like Chocolate Chip Crunch Cookies and Apple Orchard Bar Cookies.  I'd forgotten about the Three-Way Fudge recipe.  Of the new recipes, the Minty Marvels sound wonderful, and the Lime Balls are as delicious as promised.

I have had the privilege of sample about two dozen recipes or so from this book over the years, and I've never been disappointed.  They taste divine.

I've also tried to make these recipes on my own.  Now, my idea of cooking most of the time is sticking a TV dinner in the microwave, so you can see I'm not an expert by any means.  (And I'm a bachelor.)  But the recipes are so easy and explained so well that I have no trouble following them to come up with wonderful results.  Heck, I've followed these recipes to win pie baking contests and make dessert for Christmas a few times.

This is a cross between the way the recipes are usually presented in the novels and a cookbook.  Yes, the book is made up almost entirely of the recipes, but unlike a traditional cookbook there are no pictures of the finished product at all.  The recipes are broken up into sections in the book, but the heading of the section doesn't appear on each page, making it a bit harder to just thumb through the book.  On the other hand, the recipes are indexed in the back, like normal, and it's easy to flip back there and find the item and page number you are looking for.

As an added treat, the end pages of the book include series cover artist Hiro Kimura's rendition of a map of Lake Eden, the town here the series is set.

Fans of the series will be delighted to learn that the characters do appear in the book.  The "story" involves Hannah catering her mother's annual cookie exchange luncheon and giving the ladies there all these recipes.  There are a couple pages of store between each section of the book, so it's really a series of connected vignettes, but they are quite entertaining.  I laughed a few times at the stories told by the characters.

If you are looking for more than desserts, you won't find much to enjoy in this book.  But if you want some new dessert recipes that are sure to please, you can't go wrong with Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook.  And don't worry if you aren't a fan of the series, with pretty much nothing but recipes, you will find plenty of stuff to enjoy.

Looking for more?  Check out the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.

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