Saturday, September 23, 2023

Weekend Cooking: The Enchanted Garden Cafe by Abigail Drake

Today I m going to talk about reading via Kindle saves me money. Well, that's not precisely true. I have a tendency to be awake in the middle of the night, and finding myself browsing books. And let's face it, it's easy to shop when all it takes is just one click. 

So how does it save money? Thankfully, it saves me from one clicking books that I have already bought. What happens is I think oh that book looks good. I hit the one click and it says....well actually you bought this book back in 2020.

During September I had some gaps in my reading schedule, so I was trying to just read whatever I wanted, but I did decide that I should read at least one book that I have attempted to buy more than once! And so, the next book that I tried to buy again was this one. And it just so happens that it is perfect for a Weekend Cooking post.

The Enchanted Garden Cafe by Abigail Drake is the first book in the South Side Stories trilogy. You may well ask South Side of where exactly? And the answer is Pittsburgh. 

I am a sucker for a book that has a touch of magic, food and romance and this has all of these. The main character is Fiona. She helps her mother Claire run The Enchanted Garden Cafe. Where Claire is all about letting fate and karma take it's course, Fiona is about spreadsheets, plans and logic. Claire is happy enough to hold naked yoga on a regular basis. Fiona is worried about health regulations. Where Fiona is worried about the future of the cafe but Claire doesn't seem to be worried at all.

The reason Fiona is worried because there is a big developer who is determined to purchase all the businesses in the area so that they can be knocked down to build a car park. As the more and more of the shops in the other historical buildings in the area close down, the more likelihood that the cafe will suffer the same fate.

Luckily, one thing that Fiona doesn't have to worry about is her love life. She has recently met the perfect man. Scott is handsome and successful, looks great in a suit, and Fiona couldn't ask for more. The only problem is, every time they get close to doing the deed, something happens. For example, the fountain in the garden sprung a leak and destroyed his shoes on one occasion. Despite this everything is pointing towards an engagement any time soon

Given how happy she is with Scott, there is no reason why her heart should flutter uncontrollably every time she sees the new acoustic guitarist who comes to perform at the cafe every Saturday night, right?

To give you some idea of Fiona, here's a short quote from early in the book:

I enjoyed working in the shop, but the kitchen was my favorite place. I loved chopping and sifting and kneading. When the aroma of baking cookies filled the air and I smelled spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves, I felt happy and content. I couldn't cut a lemon without lifting it to my nose for a whiff of its bright, citrusy beauty, and there was nothing as satisfying as putting bread dough into an oiled bowl and coming back to see it doubled in size.

I needed a "Kitchen Witch" apron instead of "Kitchen Bitch" because this was the kind of magic I could believe in. It wasn't the magic Mom and her friends talked about, with omens, charms, and crystals. My magic was practical. Scientific. I mixed the right ingredients in the correct amounts and created something wonderful.

I planned my life this way, too, putting the right things together in the correct amounts to get the desired results. If I had a recipe, it would read, "Take four years of undergrad in a useful major. Add an MBA. Work hard. Stir in the right man, if desired, and enjoy a happy and successful life without ever worrying about things like peeling paint, broken air conditioners, leaky fountains, or irresponsible parents."

I sighed. Mom would never change, but at least I could control the other elements in my life. Any cook knows, to get the best outcome from a recipe, choose the highest-quality ingredients and buy only the best in kitchen supplies. That''s what I'd done by choosing Scott. He was as reliable as a good copper pot.

This book is full of interesting characters like Auntie Mags who was convinced that Fiona's chakras are blocked, the other staff in the cafe, and various other characters who play key roles in the battle to save the cafe. As that heats up, there are various things that happen. I enjoyed the book, but did feel like Fiona was a bit slow to figure out who she could, and couldn't, trust.

The other two books in the series are called The Hocus Pocus Magic Shop and The Dragonsong Law Offices. There are a couple of other books by Abigail Drake that sound good too!

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Away for the weekend
Sunday -  Away for the weekend
Monday - Butter Chicken pizza
Tuesday - Sausages in tomato and onion, mash and broccoli
Wednesday - Birthday dinner for my nephew
Thursday - Pressure cooker spaghetti bolognaise
Friday -Out for dinner

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. When I lived in New York, I accidentally repurchased several books I had left at my parents' house, which was annoying (let alone pre-internet when books were sometimes published with a different US title - that still happens occasionally but it is easier to detect). So I finally made Excel spreadsheets - one for the adult books and one for the children's books - printed out these huge things at work and carried them with me if I knew I was going to a library book sale or used bookstore. Now 20 or so years later, I can access it on my phone, which has saved me a lot of duplicate purchases!

    1. I have a spreadsheet from 2005 which lists everything that I have read. It used to show everything I owned but now it is very out of date!

  2. I seldom purchase books I have already read but then again I don't read as many books as you do! It's great that if you are up in the night, you are able to go shopping on Amazon.

    1. Probably better if I actually slept Judee!!

  3. Love your thoughts on the Kindle double purchase attempts! This is so me. I love when bloggers share these kings of things because it makes me feel so normal, lol....glad you found a book to tackle that you obviously wanted to buy. I am very cheap and won't consider a book on Kindle over $2.99 so it definitely saves me money too.