The Mortal Instrements

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen (April 29, 2008)

Claire has everything she thinks she needs, until one day she wakes to find a stranger has moved in next door and a vine of ivy has crept into her garden... and her carefully tended life is about to run gloriously out of control.

Product Description

Bascom, North Carolina is a town where everyone is known for their family’s characteristics, passed down through generations. One family's women are good in bed: they always marry well.  One family gives birth to a strong man - always called Josiah - once in a generation (you go to him to help you when you move house).

The Waverleys are known for their magic touch: Evanelle, who’s lived in Bascom all her life, gives people what they need before they know they need it; Claire, who came to town when she was six and never wants to leave, can turn the plants in her garden into delicious food and drink with spectacular effects on those who consume it; Sydney, who ran away from her home town at 18, hasn’t worked out what hers is. When Sydney returns to Bascom with her little girl, in flight from an abusive marriage, she proves a catalyst for change in the lives of all three women.

Product Description [My Copy]

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.

When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart. Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other.

Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own….

My copy

My Shelfari Review:

I had Garden Spells for years; the first time I saw it I knew I would like it, but the time never seemed right to start reading it until today.

I loved every word I read. It is simply one of the best books I ever read. This book is a must read for people who love food, magic, family and in need of hope. This book feels as if I bought it as a gift to myself. I just loved it.

In some ways the book reminds me a lot of the movie "Practical Magic", two sisters who have magical blood running through their veins, one stays home, with a garden and acknowledge of the secrets of gardening and plants, the other is always running away trying to find love and normality but never finding them, until a guy hurts her and she needs to feel family and safety again, so she runs back home to her sister.

I wished the book was even longer!! I wish there would be a sequel!!

I want to re-read this book again soon!!! I can't stop thinking about it!! Though I read 3 other books after it!!

Garden Spells Recipes
(Be sure to use culinary flowers, never florist flowers.) ROSE PETAL SCONES
rose petal -- encourages love...
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup unsalted coarsely ground pistachio nuts
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs rose water
2 Tbs edible rose petals - finely shredded
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.   Combine and sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cinnamon.   Cut in the butter and mix until crumbly.   Stir in the pistachios.   In a separate bowl, combine the cream and the rose water. Stir in the shredded rose petals.   Add the cream-rose mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring until a soft dough forms. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet.   Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

nasturtium -- promotes appetite in men, makes women secretive...
1 pork tenderloin, 1 to 2 pounds
2 ounces goat cheese
1-1/2 tablespoons of nasturtium blossoms, chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons chive blossoms, chopped
1 sprig rosemary
salt and pepper, fresh ground
olive oil
Split the tenderloin lengthwise down the middle, cutting about 2/3 of the way through. Lay open. Evenly spread a layer of goat cheese down the center of the tenderloin. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of nasturtium and chive blossoms and a single row of rosemary foliage down the center of the tenderloin. Using kitchen twine, close the tenderloin back up and tie it together. Brush the outside of the meat lightly with olive oil, then roll it in fresh ground salt and pepper and the remaining blossoms and rosemary foliage. Place into an ungreased cooking pan and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until a meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees.

lavender -- raises spirits and prevents bad decisions resulting from fatigue or depression...
3/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons finely chopped culinary lavender
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan.
Combine the milk and lavender in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat to a simmer, then remove from heat, and allow to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg until the mixture is light and fluffy. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture alternately with the milk and lavender until just blended. Pour into the prepared pan.
Bake for 50 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a wooden pick inserted into the crown of the loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack.

dandelion -- a stimulant encouraging faithfulness...

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease a 9" pie tin or baking dish. Coat with bread crumbs.
Fill with alternating layers of:
Dandelion greens, precooked until tender
Cheddar cheese, grated
Bacon, cooked till crisp and crumbled (optional)
Onion, diced and sauteed till translucent
Beat together:
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream or half and half
3 large eggs
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pour over other ingredients. Bake until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly to set.

mint -- when used with other edible flowers, it confuses the eater, thus concealing the true nature of what you are doing...
1-1/2 cups fresh mint
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup sugar
3 oz liquid pectin
Green food coloring
Rinse the mint (stems and leaves). Place in large pot and crush with a masher. Add water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice and a couple drops of food coloring and mix. Add the sugar and mix well. Put pot back on stove and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil, stir in the pectin and mix. Boil for 1 additional minute, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat, skim off foam with a metal spoon and quickly pour into hot sterilized jars. Seal with hot lids.

chive blossom -- ensures you will win an argument...conveniently, also an antidote for hurt feelings...
For every 2 cups packed fresh chive blossoms, you will need 2 cups white vinegar. Bring vinegar just to boil, but do not boil. Pour over chive blossoms. Let stand in rock or large glass bowl or bottle in a cool, dark place for one week. Strain vinegar, discard blossoms. Transfer to bottles and add sprig of fresh chive blossom to each bottle. Flavorful and pretty pink color.

(recipe from 

Garden Spells
Interesting Tidbits

Like Claire in the book, my real sister's name is Sydney.

Evanelle is based on a dear old woman with the same name, a friend of my great-aunt's, who would come by with surprises in the form of broccoli cornbread and sweet potato pie and buckets of blackberries.

My original title was Strange Gifts. It was changed to Garden Spells and Southern Belles, then shortened to just Garden Spells.

Bascom, the name of the town, and Lunsford's reservoir, the local swimming hole, mentioned in Garden Spells , are subtle nods to Bascom Lamar Lunsford, the man who founded the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, N.C., purportedly the longest running folk festival in the nation.   He was known as the Minstrel of the Appalachians.

In addition to the US, Garden Spells has sold to twenty countries: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Israel,
Romania, Bulgaria, Norway, Thailand, Turkey, Russia, Japan, Lithuania and Czech Republic.

Think Garden Spells is just fiction? Think again...
Mood Food

From the Afterwords section of Garden Spells in the August 2007 Reader's Digest Select Editions

In Garden Spells, Claire Waverley tries to control people's moods with her culinary creations. Pure fantasy, of course. Or is it? Scientists say that some foods do control our attitudes. For instance, the B vitamins in spinach combats sadness, and the tryptophan in turkey helps you relax. Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, like wild salmon and herring, really are "brain food," lubricating your nerve connections. The boron in avocados and broccoli keeps you alert. And best of all, chocolate, with its phenylethylamone, is just what the doctor ordered in induce feelings of love and romance.

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