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Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family

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A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parents’ pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarence’s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication. Brimming with warmth and wit, this book is sure to appeal to Flinn’s many fans as well as readers of Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, and Julie Powell.


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A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection A delicious memoir from the author of The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry In this family history interwoven with recipes, Kathleen Flinn returns readers to the mix of food and memoir beloved by readers of her bestselling The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good explores the very beginnings of her love affair with food and its connection to home. It is the story of her midwestern childhood, its memorable home cooks, and the delicious recipes she grew up with. Flinn shares tales of her parents’ pizza parlor in San Francisco, where they sold Uncle Clarence’s popular oven-fried chicken, as well as recipes for the vats of chili made by her former army cook Grandpa Charles, fluffy Swedish pancakes from Grandma Inez, and cinnamon rolls for birthday breakfasts. Through these dishes, Flinn came to understand how meals can be memories, and how cooking can be a form of communication. Brimming with warmth and wit, this book is sure to appeal to Flinn’s many fans as well as readers of Marcus Samuelsson, Ruth Reichl, and Julie Powell.

30 review for Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: A Memoir of Food and Love from an American Midwest Family

  1. 4 out of 5

    Britany

    Kathleen Flinn takes us through her life-- filled with laughable moments, food, family, and unforgettable memories. Tackling a food memoir for a challenge was outside my comfort zone, but this one was great to listen to on audio. I also picked up the book to follow along and it was filled with recipes from her childhood, and pictures to boot. Burnt Toast makes you sing good was something Kathleen's Grandma used to tell her, and she actually CAN sing good. Many of these stories reminded me of my Kathleen Flinn takes us through her life-- filled with laughable moments, food, family, and unforgettable memories. Tackling a food memoir for a challenge was outside my comfort zone, but this one was great to listen to on audio. I also picked up the book to follow along and it was filled with recipes from her childhood, and pictures to boot. Burnt Toast makes you sing good was something Kathleen's Grandma used to tell her, and she actually CAN sing good. Many of these stories reminded me of my own childhood, and brought me back to some of my mom and grandma's recipes. My favorite story was The Dollhouse. I was also obsessed with mini anything- so dollhouses are RIGHT up my alley. I related so hard to that section and hung on every single descriptive word on the mini wooden shingles. I won't give away the ending of the story, but it broke my heart. Who didn't want to have the fancy dollhouse in the craft store- fully decorated with a mini bookshelf filled with mini editions??

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schnell

    Advanced reading copy review Due for publication August 2014 I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much this cynical New Yorker loved this "Little House in post-war Michigan" memoir of family and food. I laughed, I cried, I got very hungry. Kathleen Flinn takes us from stories of her grand-parents in the Depression to her own tween years in the 1970's. Along the way are typically American stories of a family willing to take some risks, have some adventures and, come what may, find joy in simple th Advanced reading copy review Due for publication August 2014 I'm a little embarrassed to admit how much this cynical New Yorker loved this "Little House in post-war Michigan" memoir of family and food. I laughed, I cried, I got very hungry. Kathleen Flinn takes us from stories of her grand-parents in the Depression to her own tween years in the 1970's. Along the way are typically American stories of a family willing to take some risks, have some adventures and, come what may, find joy in simple things. Of course, some of those things are mouth-watering recipes that made me nostalgic, even for dishes I've never had but have some sort of culturally genetic predisposition to crave. Maybe I've been watching too many re-runs of "the Waltons", but I found this book to be very satisfying indeed.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Marti

    This is certainly an entertaining "food memoir" in the same general vein as Jean Shepherd's writings on small town Indiana. In this case, the author delves into her scrappy Irish/Swedish family history dating back to the 19th century, including many of the recipes she grew up with. It also illustrates that while American food was never exactly the healthiest (most of the recipes included contain a lot of butter), people generally stayed away from processed fast food until the 1960s. The reason th This is certainly an entertaining "food memoir" in the same general vein as Jean Shepherd's writings on small town Indiana. In this case, the author delves into her scrappy Irish/Swedish family history dating back to the 19th century, including many of the recipes she grew up with. It also illustrates that while American food was never exactly the healthiest (most of the recipes included contain a lot of butter), people generally stayed away from processed fast food until the 1960s. The reason the Flinn family held out so long is that they were too poor to afford such "luxuries." Later, as the family fortunes improved and they could finally buy a TV dinner, they thought it tasted like crap. But hey, who doesn't remember Swanson Turkey Dinner with a certain amount of nostalgia even if you wouldn't touch it today?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Pilch

    I won this book on Goodreads and it is definitely a good read. The youngest child in the family writes about growing up without a lot of money, but with lots of love and food. Reading this has made me realize what is wrong with the world today. Most people sign their kids up for every sport and activity instead of actually spending time with them. These people didn't have money, but they were there for their kids. My only complaint was reading about killing chickens and deer hunting. Iget the id I won this book on Goodreads and it is definitely a good read. The youngest child in the family writes about growing up without a lot of money, but with lots of love and food. Reading this has made me realize what is wrong with the world today. Most people sign their kids up for every sport and activity instead of actually spending time with them. These people didn't have money, but they were there for their kids. My only complaint was reading about killing chickens and deer hunting. Iget the idea and don't need the details. They did it for the food and nothing went to waste so I am not judging, I am just very squeamish.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nerisa Eugenia Waterman

    This memoir is as mouthwatering and finger licking, as it is heartwarming and funny. This book will make you laugh, and it will make you cry, but most importantly it will give you courage to fight any obstacles in your life. I couldn’t put this book down, it was like a walking down memory lane….from my first slice of pizza to my first TV dinner. Although, I am an island girl at heart, I can definitely identify with many of the characters throughout the various stages of my own life. I was left wi This memoir is as mouthwatering and finger licking, as it is heartwarming and funny. This book will make you laugh, and it will make you cry, but most importantly it will give you courage to fight any obstacles in your life. I couldn’t put this book down, it was like a walking down memory lane….from my first slice of pizza to my first TV dinner. Although, I am an island girl at heart, I can definitely identify with many of the characters throughout the various stages of my own life. I was left with a deeper appreciation for the trials and tribulation my own family went through leaving the islands to move to New Jersey. This author wrote in such a way that you felt like you were given first row seats to the life of this Midwest family, allowing you to watch the trial and the tribulation of three generations. Each generation’s story was more inspiring then the generation before them, each showing love for one another through food and cooking. My Full Review:http://myohosisters.webs.com/apps/blo...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    What I loved so deeply about Flinn's newest memoir, is that it really speaks to this idea of food being a catalyst for storytelling. I envision using this book as a mentor text with my students to get them thinking about telling their own family stories. They could bring in a family recipe and not just talk about the dish, but also the story behind it, because truly, all family recipes have a story. And each chapter of this book is Flinn doing just that: taking family recipe and sharing its stor What I loved so deeply about Flinn's newest memoir, is that it really speaks to this idea of food being a catalyst for storytelling. I envision using this book as a mentor text with my students to get them thinking about telling their own family stories. They could bring in a family recipe and not just talk about the dish, but also the story behind it, because truly, all family recipes have a story. And each chapter of this book is Flinn doing just that: taking family recipe and sharing its story with great panache, love, and humor. If I can transfer that love and humor somehow to my students' writing, I envision a classroom full of students with open hearts and watering mouths. Read my entire review on my blog.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I went to Kathleen Flinn's publication day reading at Third Place Books, bought the book and got it signed. This is a delightful book, filled with tales of Flinn's family, lovingly told. The stories were alternately sweet, funny and at times sad (I shed a few tears over a couple). I love the photos and the recipes, too. Incidentally, Kathleen Flinn brought a pot of chili (her grandfather's recipe) to her reading, and it was delicious!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kelly W

    Kathleen Flinn had it rough growing up, but she strikes me as the type that made lemonade when life handed her lemons. I mean that in the most admirable sense. Her family worked hard, honored their debts, grew a big garden for a lot of their food and even took in an orphaned cousin. I know people like this. The descriptions, stories and recipes rang true. Hand-me-downs and big pots of beans were the norm. Her parents raised good citizens and lavished their kids with love. Hunting and fishing of Kathleen Flinn had it rough growing up, but she strikes me as the type that made lemonade when life handed her lemons. I mean that in the most admirable sense. Her family worked hard, honored their debts, grew a big garden for a lot of their food and even took in an orphaned cousin. I know people like this. The descriptions, stories and recipes rang true. Hand-me-downs and big pots of beans were the norm. Her parents raised good citizens and lavished their kids with love. Hunting and fishing often filled their larder as did berrying and picking apples. Most of the recipes at the end of each chapter are family recipes, or those adapted from books gotten from the library. Julia Child's Mastering The Art of French Cooking makes an appearance since Kathleen and her sister enjoyed watching it on television. Kathleen even winds up going to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. A big jump for someone who grew up poor in Michigan. I had to laugh at the title "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good". I grew up in Appalachia and was told if I ate the burnt toast it would make my hair curly ! I received this book gratis from Goodreads which did not influence my review.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    In a departure from Flinn's previous books, this is more of a family history than a memoir. Most of the stories she tells are secondhand (or thirdhand) -- she was the baby of the family, an accident, and some of the best stories are ones that she wouldn't remember or hadn't been alive for. This was not, I think, an exceptional family -- by which I mean simply that Flinn's experience, and her family's, was not outside what we might expect in the midwest in the time period she describes. I'm remind In a departure from Flinn's previous books, this is more of a family history than a memoir. Most of the stories she tells are secondhand (or thirdhand) -- she was the baby of the family, an accident, and some of the best stories are ones that she wouldn't remember or hadn't been alive for. This was not, I think, an exceptional family -- by which I mean simply that Flinn's experience, and her family's, was not outside what we might expect in the midwest in the time period she describes. I'm reminded of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio and, to a lesser extent, Cheaper by the Dozen: Good people. Wholesome stories. (Big families.) They have their share of struggles, and they make it through. One of my favourite stories from the book: Grandpa set up melons for local kids to steal. He included his kids on the scheme. He planted an extra row of watermelons well away from their fields toward the closest neighbor. In the summer, Mom and her siblings would tell their friends they were going to steal a watermelon from their neighbor. They'd hide salt shakers in their clothes and furtively sit in the melon patch as they cracked open a melon. 'Grandpa figured a stolen melon made it that much sweeter,' Mom says. (110) Again unlike Flinn's previous books, this is one meant to impart flavour rather than tell a story. It is her family history, but the linear line is less important than the individuals and their interactions. I did find myself somewhat surprised -- it's been a while since I read The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, but I would have imagined Flinn coming from a rather more cosmopolitan (or at least suburban) background. The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry will be a hard book for Flinn to top, and she hasn't managed it with this one -- but she has delivered a solid, well-paced slice of American life. I received a free copy of this book via a Goodreads giveaway.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leslie Jenison

    I have been a fan of Kathleen Flinn since reading her first book, "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry". I have gifted numerous aspiring cooks with her second book, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School", as it contains a wealth of information for cooks of all skill levels and it addresses a common and growing issue: the decline of cooking fresh food (which I hope is beginning to change for the better). This is the story of family, hardship and triumph, and it is all woven together with tales I have been a fan of Kathleen Flinn since reading her first book, "The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry". I have gifted numerous aspiring cooks with her second book, "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School", as it contains a wealth of information for cooks of all skill levels and it addresses a common and growing issue: the decline of cooking fresh food (which I hope is beginning to change for the better). This is the story of family, hardship and triumph, and it is all woven together with tales of the food heritage within the family. The only thing wrong with it is that it ended too soon!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lucy Burdette

    Though I very much admired Flinn's book about the French culinary institute, I wondered how she could fill a book with reminiscences about her Michigan family and hold the reader's interest. I was wrong to doubt--the memoir is delightful. Her stories brim with the resilience and optimism that her family showed as they struggled to reach for the American dream. Foodies will enjoy this, but so will the non-food obsessed. The recipes are just a bonus!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Belle

    A beautiful memoir of her family. The comfort foods that sustained her ancestors and relatives through celebrations and grief. So many awesome recipes to try too. So full of midwestern charm, it felt like she was my cousin talking about my family.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    An interesting family history, with some pretty impressive people. There are some good looking recipes included that tie into the theme of each chapter. The author writes about her family years before she came along. The memoir really starts to feel more personal once she is able to write about her own experiences; I guess that's obvious. But - "unthaw"? Well, according to Merriam Webster, the usage is correct but... just no. The author also wrote https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8..., which ha An interesting family history, with some pretty impressive people. There are some good looking recipes included that tie into the theme of each chapter. The author writes about her family years before she came along. The memoir really starts to feel more personal once she is able to write about her own experiences; I guess that's obvious. But - "unthaw"? Well, according to Merriam Webster, the usage is correct but... just no. The author also wrote https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8..., which has been on my radar for a while. I'll have to check it out as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Melinda

    We all know that there is such a thing as Comfort Food, but there is also Comfort Reading--those books that feel like a hug and restore your faith in everyday people. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good gives you both Comfort Food AND Comfort Reading! The Flinn family is a typical mid-Century, mid-American family. There are now celebrities in this family and the only one that crosses this family's path is Michael Moore in his younger years. They aren't the saccharine kind of family that you might fin We all know that there is such a thing as Comfort Food, but there is also Comfort Reading--those books that feel like a hug and restore your faith in everyday people. Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good gives you both Comfort Food AND Comfort Reading! The Flinn family is a typical mid-Century, mid-American family. There are now celebrities in this family and the only one that crosses this family's path is Michael Moore in his younger years. They aren't the saccharine kind of family that you might find on a sit-com or family drama. No, the Flinn's are a fun and loving bunch who pull together through the ups and downs. Folks, I want to be a part of this family. The parents love each other (really, they are always running off on countless "second honeymoons"), they have an array of eccentrics in their extended family, and Flinn's sister actually runs away to be a clown! Yes, a clown! Oh, and then there is the food. Other than Julia Child's Beouf Bourginon, we aren't talking about "fancy" food. This is stick to your ribs and warm your soul fare. This is the kind of food that I grew up with--my mother being a good mid-Century, mid-American woman. And there are RECIPES! I really wish I had the hardcopy of this book as it would be easier to go back to the recipes! I related to this family--like Kathleen, I was the youngest by FAR and was at home long after my siblings had moved out (in my case, many of my siblings had moved out before I was born). While my family didn't especially struggle financially while I was growing up, there were some definite hard times before I came along. For readers who are into serious memoirs, this may be a bit light. For everyone else--especially foodies--this is a treat. I laughed, I sobbed, and I wanted to eat! I received an electronic copy of this book in return for an honest review. I received no other compensation for this post.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim Ambler

    If you have never read anything by Kathleen Flinn, you're really missing out! She is quite the master of the memoir. She has taken her fairly ordinary life and written not one, but three, rich, compelling books about it. Because cooking is such a part of who she is, each book contains some great recipes for the foods she has discussed. The recipes are a treat, and definitely an added bonus. This book tells of Flinn's family history, weaving a tale of three generations. The family is, in many ways If you have never read anything by Kathleen Flinn, you're really missing out! She is quite the master of the memoir. She has taken her fairly ordinary life and written not one, but three, rich, compelling books about it. Because cooking is such a part of who she is, each book contains some great recipes for the foods she has discussed. The recipes are a treat, and definitely an added bonus. This book tells of Flinn's family history, weaving a tale of three generations. The family is, in many ways, just like any other family. But the stories and details she tells make the family seem not so ordinary. Like her other books, this one was inspirational. Her family was not afraid to make a leap and try new experiences. I had fun reading about the good old days, hours of playing cards and board games as a family, and spending time together before the digital age. It reminded me of my own childhood. I loved how the family moved around a lot and pursued their dreams. My interest dipped a bit when she talked about fishing and hunting, but those activities were a big part of her family life. I definitely liked Flinn's other two books,The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry, and The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, quite a bit better than this one, simply because they were more educational and I found them far more interesting. They told about her experiences with cooking school, and teaching others cooking skills. Anyone with some interest in learning to cook could probably appreciate those books. This one, on the other hand, was just more the telling of her family history. I gave all three books a four star rating, which could be misleading. I would give this one 3.5 stars and the other two 4.5 stars. If you enjoy memoirs, all three books are well worth reading. *I am thankful to have received a free advance copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Thank you Goodreads for this advanced copy. I could relate to everything about this book in some way... growing up in Michigan, family life and folklore and even young Kathleen. Even though her family life was different than mine, I could picture every part so clearly in my minds eye. Flinn has a talent for humor, story telling and making your mouth water waiting for the next recipe in the book. I enjoyed the book cover to cover. At the end of the book young Kathleen reads "A Tree Grows In Brook Thank you Goodreads for this advanced copy. I could relate to everything about this book in some way... growing up in Michigan, family life and folklore and even young Kathleen. Even though her family life was different than mine, I could picture every part so clearly in my minds eye. Flinn has a talent for humor, story telling and making your mouth water waiting for the next recipe in the book. I enjoyed the book cover to cover. At the end of the book young Kathleen reads "A Tree Grows In Brooklyn." She has created a credible Midwest companion to the book for a new generation. Fans of "The Prize Winner from Defiance Ohio" will love this book too.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I adore Kathleen Flinn's writing. This is definitely a food memoir which I love reading, but it's more than that. When I hear memoir, I think life story, which makes me worry that it'll be all self involved and annoying. In Burnt Toast..., Ms Flinn writes about her family, growing up, and how food wove into everything. I love to cook and am a little food obsessed and I felt like I had found a home. I would highly recommend this book to any foodies. You'll be drawn to the people's personalities a I adore Kathleen Flinn's writing. This is definitely a food memoir which I love reading, but it's more than that. When I hear memoir, I think life story, which makes me worry that it'll be all self involved and annoying. In Burnt Toast..., Ms Flinn writes about her family, growing up, and how food wove into everything. I love to cook and am a little food obsessed and I felt like I had found a home. I would highly recommend this book to any foodies. You'll be drawn to the people's personalities and care about their lives, while getting to spend time with people who love food. Really, just read it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sherry

    This followed a similar vein of other food/coming of age memoirs (Ruth Reichl, Molly Wizenberg etc) but I definitely liked this more than those. Her humble origins and those of her parents and grandparents were so much more interesting to me. Stories of hardworking, selfless people who really loved one another and had their priorities in order made this edifying and the food portions didn't feel pretentious or forced but fit in so naturally.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Lorrie

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. Nostalgia, memory lane, Americana, 'good ole days'...I so enjoyed reading this memoir. This author has a penchant for telling stories. The book was peppered throughout with pictures and family recipes. Great read!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I loved this story! Kathleen Flinn is such a wonderful story teller! I loved the story of her childhood and family. So heart warming and wonderful and sad.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    Kathleen starts by telling about her parents’ and grandparents’ history. They had many adventures, including starting their own restaurant out in California. Many of her ancestors were spunky, a trait that passed along to Kathleen, her sister, and three brothers. Her mom said, “If you say you believe that life should be full of adventures, then you have to be willing to let your kids have them, too.” I like that, and am trying to live it out with my own kids. I enjoyed the tales about the ancesto Kathleen starts by telling about her parents’ and grandparents’ history. They had many adventures, including starting their own restaurant out in California. Many of her ancestors were spunky, a trait that passed along to Kathleen, her sister, and three brothers. Her mom said, “If you say you believe that life should be full of adventures, then you have to be willing to let your kids have them, too.” I like that, and am trying to live it out with my own kids. I enjoyed the tales about the ancestors, but the book really comes to life once Kathleen is born. She and I are about 2 years apart in age, so I related to several of the things she mentioned. I loved her telling about her dad’s love of their set of encyclopedias, and how he read through the set and often told the kids facts he learned from them. She talks about her fascination with TV dinners (which I shared). When Kathleen finally got to eat one, she was totally unimpressed. I, on the other hand, thought it was great. She mentions automatic TV antennas (also non-automatic versions that her brothers ran outside to manually turn), berry picking, and various other things I hadn’t thought about in a while. It was a fun trip down memory lane. When Kathleen is young, her family grows up in southern/mid Michigan. That’s not too far from where I now live, so I could also appreciate her various allusions to life in this part of the country. Sadly, her dad died when he was just 50, and while Kathleen was still young. Her chapter about that event, “Dollhouse,” was touching. In keeping with the title, the book weaves its way around food throughout. Kathleen discusses various recipes and their significance in her family. The recipes are all included, and yesterday I made “All Day Bean Soup” from the book. It was good. I recommend “Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good;” I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    A good memoir for anyone who likes food or is a fellow Michigander.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    I loved it! Now I know what makes Kathleen Flinn tick. My favorite quote; "You can't give anything away; it always comes back to you."

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kati Polodna

    Loved this. Totally cried at the end. A love story about the Midwest and family.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Annie Carrott Smith

    Really - what could be better than reading a delightful story of a large Michigan family that is also filled with comfort food recipes? This family’s history is told through the youngest daughter’s eyes. Very entertaining!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    Reading is an utter activity of joy for me! It has been since I was a little girl. No one book is the same and readers’ responses to the very same book will not be the same either. For good cause too; reading is personal. Every story will tweak something different within each reader based upon the reader’s family history, personal struggles, lessons learned, current challenges, and dreams of the heart. I love reading! Did I mention that yet? I approach every single book with great excitement, es Reading is an utter activity of joy for me! It has been since I was a little girl. No one book is the same and readers’ responses to the very same book will not be the same either. For good cause too; reading is personal. Every story will tweak something different within each reader based upon the reader’s family history, personal struggles, lessons learned, current challenges, and dreams of the heart. I love reading! Did I mention that yet? I approach every single book with great excitement, especially if the title or the book cover looked appealing in a fun way! Kathleen Flinn’s book Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good sure made me want to sing! Her title was cute and interesting and her cover was bright and lively. As an avid reader, I have book piles all over my house, as I am sure all book lovers everywhere do! In fact, I am “in process” in quite a few books in rooms throughout my home. This “process” does not apply though to THOSE books, you know the ones. This is the book where the story immediately connects with you somehow. You like something about the plot or maybe you personally understand one of the characters. Kathleen’s book was one of THOSE books. It did not get placed into one of my “in process” piles. No, sadly, the book only lasted a about two days. Funny, isn’t it? When we find a book we love, all we seem to want to do is get to the end, right? Then, when we read the last page, we are disappointed! Isn’t that so? Her book did that to me. I hold no grudges. I would read another of her books in a second if given the opportunity to do so again. For I am sure it would be a similar experience. In truth, I know it would be for I did already read her The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry book, which made me love her epilogue even more due to my prior knowledge. Also, with my prior knowledge of having read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn Kathleen became even more endearing to me as a fellow woman, my fellow sister. Books did for her what they did and do for me! I found a kindred spirit! I reacted to that book in similar ways yet differently, as I explain why earlier due to our unique personhoods. I admired her writing skills once again! Memoirs are a challenge to write. Truth is hard to set on paper, especially when our loved ones are concerned. How do we honor the truth and the memories and our family relationships and our own selves all at the same time? This is the true art of writing. I loved her delicate gentle voice throughout the story. I really felt like I knew each of her family members and felt and understood the value and quality of the importance of family routines, traditions, and relationships. My own heart agrees with this philosophy. I also understood or grasped meaning of what was not said, which made it even better. In my own life, books have been used to teach me, bring healing & truth, inspiration, and encouragement. Her story and beautiful work of art was used mightily in speaking into my heart. An old prayer of mine was for a way to discover my family history and throughout the years, God has been answering this prayer and within the past month, our family actually received even more. I hope to use some of this information in some of the book projects I have had within my heart. She did an amazing job telling the story of her family and her upbringing and giving honor to her loved ones. This book is marvelous memoir and a tremendous tool for writers to learn the craft of memoir writing. As a young girl who struggled with trying to fit in at times, I personally connected to her experience during her school years. Her ending was powerfully and elegantly done! Her actions portrayed many life principles. A valuable insight I received that reminded me of a life truth; many times our later years are better than the earlier years, what one sows-they will reap, follow your dreams, and just do it! Also, everyone and everything in our lives, all of it, all make us what we are and what we become. It is all important and all special, even the sad or painful or not so nice stuff. Even the dysfunctional or dynamics which may have caused hurt, they too were crucial to the making of our unique selves. I don’t know what your heart will receive from her book, but my heart was definitely enriched and encouraged! Kathleen’s family instilled valuable truths and she lived them out in her own life. She went for it! This project was beautifully done and I am so blessed and thankful for having had read it! Congratulations Kathleen!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Erin Host Hisaw

    Gah... Food memoirs get me EV.ERY.TIME. Really liked this book. It’s no Ruth Reichl, but it was GOOD.

  28. 4 out of 5

    The Book Maven

    Food writer and journalist Kathleen Flinn has gone many places, and tasted many things…but I daresay that she’s managed to stay true to her Midwestern roots. Those roots break through and flourish in this enormously appetizing memoir of her family’s background and her own childhood in Michigan. Each anecdote she offers has food centered at the heart or on the periphery of the story, and each chapter ends with a recipe of the main food mentioned. The recipes sound both solidly Midwestern and tant Food writer and journalist Kathleen Flinn has gone many places, and tasted many things…but I daresay that she’s managed to stay true to her Midwestern roots. Those roots break through and flourish in this enormously appetizing memoir of her family’s background and her own childhood in Michigan. Each anecdote she offers has food centered at the heart or on the periphery of the story, and each chapter ends with a recipe of the main food mentioned. The recipes sound both solidly Midwestern and tantalizingly delicious (i.e., oven-fried chicken, bread and butter pickles, Hot German potato salad) but they never overshadow the true heart of the story—one family’s enduring love and support through the highs and lows of 20th century America. Anyone yearning for the sensible, get-on-with-it, community-minded ideal of Middle America, and the attendant aphorisms and truisms, should read this book and revel in it. In summary: If there is such a thing as comfort food (and goodness, yes there is) well then, why can’t there be such a thing as comfort reading? And what if there were something that could combine BOTH? Well, in this book, I’ve found such a combination, and was able to relish in it without gaining a single pound. (But then, I haven’t tried any of the book’s recipes, yet.)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I absolutely loved it. An easy read about a real family. Complete with recipes for real families. Flinn's family was admirably fearless. Her parents went through life embracing change, poverty, disasters. They fished, farmed, raised chickens, shopped at the thrift store, "made do". They fell in love with a ramshackle farm and bought it, just like that. That same adventurous spirit put them down on the Florida coast years later. The zeal for life that I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway. I absolutely loved it. An easy read about a real family. Complete with recipes for real families. Flinn's family was admirably fearless. Her parents went through life embracing change, poverty, disasters. They fished, farmed, raised chickens, shopped at the thrift store, "made do". They fell in love with a ramshackle farm and bought it, just like that. That same adventurous spirit put them down on the Florida coast years later. The zeal for life that her parents shared was inspiring to me. While my parents were not quite as adventurous as the Flinn's, we shared many similarities and I could totally identify with Kathleen (getting picked on at school for off brand shoes, my mother also loved to shop for us at thrift stores, a passion I now share with her without my childhood shame.) This book describes many memories for me as well, having grown up in the same era, and maybe that's why I enjoyed it so very much (I recall my first TV Dinner with about the same enjoyment as she did.) The love and humor that this family had got them through the best and worst of times. This is a book I'm glad I won,it will be kept on my bookshelf to re-read, and I plan on trying many of the recipes that were included.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Disclaimer first. My friend Martina won the book from Kathleen as part of her Seattle book launch and then loaned it to me. Kathleen was at the annual Tom Douglas cookbook social, where I first heard of her and bought "The Sharper the Knife..." This time she was serving hot dogs and there was a plastic squirt jar of French's mustard. It scared me off. This was going to be a food memoir? I started the book and found myself interested in a family history that didn't jive with my memory of her Cord Disclaimer first. My friend Martina won the book from Kathleen as part of her Seattle book launch and then loaned it to me. Kathleen was at the annual Tom Douglas cookbook social, where I first heard of her and bought "The Sharper the Knife..." This time she was serving hot dogs and there was a plastic squirt jar of French's mustard. It scared me off. This was going to be a food memoir? I started the book and found myself interested in a family history that didn't jive with my memory of her Cordon Bleu past. I was impressed with the research and portraits of her amazing parents and grandparents. A love story, but interesting rather than compelling. I put it aside for a trip and then picked up back up again for the second half. By the end I was hooked but I realized I was just the most hooked on the writing in the last chapters because those are the ones that Kathleen experienced rather than learned about. The last three chapters would be excellent stand-alone essays and made me realize what had been missing from the earlier part of the book. It was her own voice. As for the recipes...I might try making the Montreal Steak salt.

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