Finally, FINALLY I get to say: Welcome back to the table readers! I’m really happy to be getting back on not only the reviewing wagon but the recipe wagon as well! It’s been a tough month but things are settling down and I’m really excited for some upcoming reads and recipes! Today was a wonderful day spent laying out in the beautiful 70 degree weather here in Dallas reading away the day, while some delicious food cooked in my house. Today I’ll be bringing you all a review for Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone along with a recipe for a delicious Bolognese sauce! This is a special treat and one of my husbands favorites! He’s pretty much drowning in this PhD work right now and preparing for the surgery so I thought this Sunday I’d be the #extra wife and make something that takes the whole day!
Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone
Jane isn’t your average 30 year old. She’s a self-diagnosed sociopath with a new penchant for revenge. From page one she has set out on a mission to make the man who caused her best friend Meg’s suicide pay through literally any means necessary. Meg, she was vibrant and loving and kind. She saw Jane for who she was in spite of the fact that Jane could be cold and distanced, she loved her with her whole heart. Steven, the object of Jane’s new obsession, and the obsession that led Meg to an untimely death.
I don’t think I was born this way. I suspect I used to feel things too deeply until my brain rewired itself to protect me.
Steven is the literal definition of the worst type of person you could imagine – an actual, living and breathing dumpster fire of a human being. I wont malign the fact that he’s male – because there are plenty of people, no matter their gender who tear others down to make themselves feel better. It is absolutely not singular to any race, sexuality, gender or other designation.To woo the type of person Stephen is, Jane must confirm to someone she is absolutely not. A meek, insecure, shell of a woman out to please her man. As she reels Stephen in, things get stickier and sticker and stickier…
After all, everyone knows that women are responsible for how men behave. If we’re not careful, they might decide to take what they want. They can’t help it. But somehow I’m the one with the psychological impairment.
I’ll let you know up front – the societal implications of this novel are fairly heavy handed. However, despite this, I found it a refreshing, exciting and page-turning read. I absolutely FLEW through this thing, the moment I picked it up I couldn’t put it down for more than a few minutes before returning. Stone does a phenomenal job of drawing the eye away from the more shocking but decidedly, less important to the story aspects of this novel.
Jane herself was an incredible MC. I often find female main characters to be flawed (naturally) but not in a way that is truly accessible. They’re constantly fighting deep, personal demons that end up making them further from reach, further from something I can truly connect with. I really enjoyed that while Jane had her issues, they weren’t overwhelming the story nor were they a focus in even a secondary sense. In spite of her flaws she was a strong, driven, sometimes broken but ultimately incredibly moving main character.
People cause pain. Even good people hurt those they love. We all do it because we can’t help it. Most of us aren’t evil; we’re just stupid and flawed and not careful with others.
I do think it’s important, even though I’m not a fan of the phrase to mention that some of the content in this novel could be triggering for others. Stone does absolutely NOT shy away from difficult topics or subject matter. However, this book was pure entertainment. That may sound crass or cavalier of the real problems many people are facing with abusive relationships that don’t leave marks but that’s what I think makes this novel so great. It tackles difficult subject matter but doesn’t do so in a way that is condescending or lofty or inaccessible.
All in all, every character here really spoke to me and I enjoyed this exciting read from start to finish. While it ultimately loses half a star for me because the ending was just a tad bit too neat and tidy I walk away from this having really enjoyed the tale Stone wove. I highly suggest this for anyone interested in thrillers because it was a thrilling ride from start to finish! I read this with the Traveling Sisters and I’m a bit ahead of the curve but what I can say is that so far we’re all really enjoying it and it’s an excellent conversation starter!
Long Story Short:
Suggested For: Those who love thrillers and mysteries, enjoy a happy ending or are looking for books that topic present-day issues.
Alright, now that we’re through that whirlwind, lets get to the table! While not the healthiest of menu options, you can always lighten this dish up by replacing traditional pasta with zoodles! They’re a staple in our home but we decided to treat ourselves today with fresh pasta.
- Servings: 4 (while you can cut this down, it’s sauce and sauce generally works better in larger quantities)
- Pans: 1 – you guessed it, enameled cast iron dutch oven! *also a pasta pan so I guess 2*
- Prep Time: 10-15 minutes
- Cook Time: 3+ hours
- 1 tablespoon olive or coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2/3 cup chopped celery
- 2/3 cup chopped carrot
- ¾ pound ground chuck
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4-5 garlic cloves chopped
- Ground or fresh nutmeg
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 14.5 ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped with juice (I pour the can into the pot and chop with my spatula but if you can find them chopped that works even better!)
Easy edits to make, per preference:
- I’ve talked about non-stick before and about how it doesn’t cook as uniformly or as well as cast iron or stainless steel but another great thing about these latter options is that crusty stuff that forms at the bottom of these pans is pure flavor my dudes. While non-stick is great for some options I highly suggest using something else for a sauce like this!
- Feel free to use zoodles or other veggie noodles in place of pasta!
- You can also use a mix of beef, pork or veal to fit your preference.
- While the minimum you should cook this is 1 hour, the longer you let it steep the better it’ll be. I prefer mine to be a minimum of 3 hours with the ideal cook time being closer to 5.
- Cooking with cream: bring your cream to room temperature before adding it to the pan, also low and slow is always the way to go so you don’t break the sauce!
- Add oil, butter and chopped onion to pan and cook over medium. Cook until at least translucent *we prefer to caramelize ours a bit more for flavor
- Add chopped celery and carrot and cook for another 2-3 minutes
- Add in garlic and cook for another 45 seconds to 1 minute
- Add in ground beef, salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink
- Add in milk and let simmer gently, stir frequently until milk has complete evaporated. Add 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and stir.
- Add the wine, let simmer until evaporated
- Add tomatoes and stir thoroughly to coat all ingredients
- When tomatoes begin go bubble turn the heat down because you want this sauce to be LAZY AF like your Sunday with just a few bubbles here and there.
- Cook uncovered for 3-5 hours, stirring occasionally
- If it looks like the sauce is drying out and ½ cup water when necessary
- Your end result however, should have no water left – taste and add salt as needed
- Always toss your pasta (cooked al dente) in your sauce and let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce for the best flavor!
Quote: The waiter arrives. I order spaghetti Bolognese and my mouth waters at the thought of it. Please let this place be a hidden gem. This relationship doesn’t have to be all work and no play. I may as well enjoy what I can.
Music Mood: Flightless Bird, American Mouth by Iron & Wine
And there you have it folks – a delicious dinner for you and your family that makes great left overs! Now, for posterity sake here is a picture of my day:
Have you read Jane Doe – if so, what did you think? What are some meals that take all day that you enjoy making when you’re in the mood? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know!