Alright my peeps – welcome back to the table for another round of Recipe and a Read! Today I’ll be bringing you a review of Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier along with a recipe for a DIY Ramen Noodle Jar! Campy/kitschy I know but they’re super cute and versatile and as I’ve mentioned before the whole recipe and a read thing has been a journey for me! Not all books are food heavy so I’ve got to be creative with some!
On the topic of excellent books with food, I’m preparing an extra special post for you all for Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens that I’ll be starting soon with the Traveling Friends group over on Goodreads so keep an eye out next week! Hint: it’s gonna be decadent and delicious!
**On a personal side note – it’s my birthday today! All I wanted was an extra day to read and I’m pleased to say it’s going well so far!!**
Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier
Georgina (Geo) Shaw was your average 16 year-old, high-school cheerleader. She was popular, smart and a good girl. Her best friend was the “it-girl” of St. Martins private school, Angela Wong. Angela shined brighter and bolder than Geo, than anyone at their high-school, and she knew it. Their relationship was fraught with jealousies and competition but they loved each other more than anything else in the world.
Enter Calvin James. He’s 21, drives a red Trans Am, is too handsome for words, confident and charming to boot. When he takes a sudden, inexplicable and obsessive interest in Geo instead of Angela, Geo’s carefully constructed life slowly starts to unravel. Until one fateful night Calvin murders Angela Wong and Geo helps him cover it up.
The past is always with you, whether you choose to think about it or not, whether you take responsibility for it or not. Your carry the past with you because it transforms you. You can try to bury it and pretend it never happened, but that doesn’t work.
Now, 14 years down the line Geo has hidden this secret and carried the guilt with her as she forged a new life. She’s a major player at a huge corporation, she’s got a rich fiancé and things are all going her way. Until one-third of her high-school trio, now a cop, makes a visit to her at work. Kaiser, best friend to both her and Angela has come to arrest Geo as an accomplice to murder.
Geo, finally ready to come clean and wash her past sins away with truth serves five years in prison for her crimes and helps put Calvin away for life. Newly released from jail, bodies begin turning up with suspicious messages that all point to Geo. Now the race is on to figure out who is this killer, how is it related to Angela and Geo and will they solve it in time?
Everyone has a single defining moment in life, something that thrusts them irrevocably into a new direction, something that affects them at their core, something that changes them forever.
I loved this story! It was such a refreshing thriller to read because it was entirely grounded in reality. The story lines are plausible, believable and at no point did I feel I had to truly suspend reality to get into the story. I don’t mind implausible story lines because it’s par for the course in fiction and I’m a fantasy fan so I’m used to it – but it’s always nice when you read something and find yourself saying “yes, I could see this happening” and still being totally entrenched in the suspense of the story.
This had me at the edge of my seat the entire time. I wasn’t there because there were frivolous twists or red-herrings thrown in and I was honestly surprised by how engrossed I was despite it missing things that are fairly traditional for these types of novels. The development into the story and it’s writing is was got me. I didn’t want to know the outcome, I needed to and I didn’t want to miss a single detail along the way.
In every story, there’s a hero and villain. Sometimes one person can be both.
I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about the prison setting but it was yet another device that yielded to an incredibly dynamic novel. I’m not able to recall any story I’ve read that’s had a sizeable portion of it set within the confines of prison and it was written in an incredibly accessible way. It created an atmosphere to the novel that not only changed Geo as a person, but changes the readers perception of her as well.
As the story progresses, the pacing remains consistent and it never felt rushed or sensationalized. The final twists in this one weren’t over-done or in your face. Much like the rest of the novel there was subtlety here that really worked for me and aided to the very grounded feel of the novel over all. This is my first read from Hillier and I’ll definitely be picking up more down the line!
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Anyone looking for a more realistic thriller that doesn’t require the reader to suspend too much reality.
Alrighty then – read over, on to the recipe! This one is super versatile and is great to make to bring to work for lunches! It’s as healthy or as hearty as you want it to be and you can add, replace and change anything to make your meal individual to your taste or your families!
DIY Ramen Noodle Jar
- Servings: 3
- Prep Time: Varies dependent upon what you put in your own jar (but likely to be about 20 minutes)
- Pans Required: 1-2 (depending on protein)
The ingredients for this one is going to work a bit different this time. I’ll give you lots of options for you to choose from to tailor this to your own taste. It’s a mix and match dream!!
Stock Base (Choose One):
- 1 tablespoon beef stock base, chicken stock base or vegetable stock base (my favorite is Better Than Bullion)
Flavor Boost (Choose 1-2):
- 1 ½ teaspoon lemon, lime or orange zest, ¾ teaspoon chili powder, ¾ teaspoon Cajun seasoning, lemon-pepper seasoning or old bay seasoning, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce, 2 tablespoons white miso paste, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh herbs (cilantro, chives, sage, parsley etc)
Protein (Choose One):
- 7 ounces cooked smoked sausage, cooked shredded chicken, cooked shredded roast beef, cooked peeled shrimp, cooked chopped pork, cooked meatballs (quartered), 1 cup canned beans or frozen edamame, 2 ounces smoked salmon or 3 sliced hard-cooked eggs
Noodles (Choose One):
- Cooked one minute less than package directions and drained, rinsed and tossed in vegetable oil. Choose from: spaghetti, angel hair, shell, linguini, elbow, rice noodles, ramen noodles or any noodle you prefer!
Veggies (Choose Two or Three):
- Julienned carrots, frozen peas, frozen corn, sliced green onions, broccoli slaw, fresh baby spinach, sliced button or shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped zucchini, sliced snow pea pods, chopped bok choy.
My Combo Choice:
- Shredded chicken (I used pre-cooked rotisserie chicken), chicken base, garlic, soy sauce, ramen noodles, julienned carrots, corn and broccoli slaw! ***my husband suggested making sure you have a little something extra like sriracha to add to it***
- Divide stock base and flavor boost between three microwaveable pint-size jars with lids. Layer with protein, noodles and vegetables (in that order). Place lid on jars. Store in refrigerator for 3-5 days.
- Bring to school or lunch with a freezer pack if you don’t have somewhere to store. Before heating, let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or run warm water over the jar for a minute or two. Nearly fill the jar with water (about 1 ¼ cups of water) and microwave, uncovered for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir to combine!
Quote: She picks up the empty Mason jar, the one Calvin filled with cinnamon hears to give her. It had been a present, his way of apologizing after…
Music Mood: Kansas City by The new Basement Tapes
How do you feel about suspending reality for a read? Are you ok with it or are you the reality police? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!!