Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook

In Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook, the author presents recipes previously featured in the Hannah Swenson mystery novels as well as some newly created ones.

This is such a fun book! I haven't read all of the Hannah Swenson mysteries, but I have read a few of them. It's neat to see all of these recipes all in one place rather than scattered in the many books. There's a story running throughout the book and parts of it are presented before each section. It's sort of a novelized cookbook. Many of the recipes are for sweet tweets with only a few savoury ones. If you are familiar with the series, this shouldn't be a surprise as most of the recipes in the books (at least the ones I've seen) are sweet.

For the purposes of this review, I made one of the recipes, Lovely Lemon Bar Cookies (page 294). It turned out great except that I think I over-baked it a little. I've had lemon bars before, but I don't think they had lemon zest in them. The addition of it made the lemony flavour intense and wonderful. Yum. I'll definitely be making this again.

The end papers are awesome! They feature a map of Lake Eden with all of the points of interests labeled. There's The Cookie Jar, Hannah's Condo, City Hall and many more. I love maps and really appreciated this one.

Even though I enjoyed reading and flipping through this book, I did have a few problems with it. The author's note at the beginning mentions that recipes "written in mixed case and are preceded by an asterisk are new recipes". However, as far as I could tell all of the recipe titles were written in capitals. Some of the recipes in the book are preceded by an asterisk, but the mixed case was missing and misleading. I finally figured it out when I got to the end of the book and saw the list of recipes. In that list, the new recipes are written in mixed case. Perhaps the author's note should have been written differently.

The other thing that bothered me was the instruction for measuring flour. I've done lots of baking in the past and this is the first time I've seen the instruction "pack it down in the cup when you measure it" when it comes to flour. Brown sugar, yes. Flour, no. I'm not even sure what to say about it other than I find it very odd.

I would also have loved it if Fluke would have included a table of contents that at least listed the major sections. Without it, it's hard to find the various sections and the different parts of the story. I don't know anyone who reads a cookbook like a novel.  Also, for previously published recipes, a nice addition would have been a note stating which book the recipe appeared in.

Recommended for fans of this mystery series. I hope to make a few more recipes from the book before passing it on to a friend who's a huge fan of the mystery series.

For more information about this book or to browse inside, please visit the Kensington Books website.

For more information about the author and her other books, please visit the Hannah Swensen Mysteries website.

Thanks to those nice people from Kensington Books for this review copy.

Joanne Fluke's Lake Eden Cookbook by Joanne Fluke, Kensington Books, ©2011. ISBN 9780758234971(Hardcover), 368p.


  1. Like you, I've read parts of the series, but not all. This sounds like a fun book to browse or read as a novel, but not arranged well for use as we commonly use a cookbook. I think I'll see if they have it at the library.

  2. Packing down flour is a no-no. Ideally we would weigh flour to be sure we always get the right amount (and if you have any British cook books you've probably seen that). Since we North Americans tend to measure by volume in order to get consistent results you have to spoon flour into a measuring cup so that it is overfilled and then use a knife to take off the excess. Sticking the measuring cup into the flour is also a no-no. Some articles I have seen suggest that this (or packing it down some other way) results in 25% more flour.

    On that basis alone I wouldn't want to use this cookbook as much as I have enjoyed Joanna Fluke's mysteries.

    1. Wendy, I agree, packing down flour shouldn't be done. I was very surprised to see this when I've always been told it was wrong.

      I guess I was trying to be diplomatic, when I should have been more clear. I would never pack down flour even if the recipe said to do so. Weighing flour is the best method.

      Thanks for pointing that out!!

  3. I know this is an old entry, but as a long-time reader of these books, I wanted to point out that the "pack it down when you measure" note is essential to her recipes. The recipes in the early books called for unsifted flour, which seemed to lead to a lot of confusion as most flour nowadays is presifted. Packing presifted flour down in the cup intentionally adds more flour to bring it closer to the unsifted amount the recipes actually intend. If you use sifted flour in these recipes and don't pack it down, you will have nowhere near enough flour in the recipe to get the intended results.

    1. Thanks for your comments, Leslie! That makes sense and perhaps should have been explained in the book. That, or perhaps a rewrite of the recipes. ;)


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