"The Circle of Kindness" by Jana Kolpen & Mary Tiegreen


Welcome in once again as The Novel Bakers
play with the third book in Jana Kolpen's and Mary Tiegreen's
Trilogy; "The Circle of Kindness".

Whew ~ Please excuse me as I'm late to the party 
(computer got cranky...)

Here we go! 

We find that our main character Mlle. J. has been invited
from The Villa della Luna in Italy, to Ireland:

This could well be my favorite of the three books. :)

The story is enchanting ~ the
other Novel Bakers are such wonderful
story tellers, so if you have visited them, I'm sure
you've gotten the gist of The Circle of Kindness. 

I love the story and the message of the book,
however, I got side-tracked by the food, as well.
(what's new??) *grin*

Lots of bits of wisdom in this sweet little book . . .

"Through her experiences she had come to understand 
the power we hold in our hands and in our hearts."

We learn that Mlle. J is invited to stay with Shannon, 
in her little thatched-roof cottage, framed with roses.

"It was here in this land of many
greens that Mademoiselle J. would find the generosity
of spirit and compassion that turns the world."


The first morning Mlle. awoke to Shannon baking bread.

Shannon teaches Mlle. J.  how to bake delicious,
bread . . . all the while promoting kindness,
compassion and friendship . . .

So I made some, too . . .

It's not a yeast bread, it's a soda bread ~ 
goes together very quickly and it's delicious!
If you don't have the book, here is another
excellent recipe for brown bread.

I ground red wheat berries very coarsely,
the texture was perfect.

(If you don't have a grinder you can probably
find coarse-ground at your healthy food store.) 

After some good tea and bread,
a little later we're off for an outing into town . . .

One of the stops? To visit a shop ~

 And also "The Inn Between" !

Called the "Inn Between", because it is located
between the barber shop and the bakery
(and it holds very odd hours.)

Fascinated by the names of the item menu,
I had to make a few!

The first one:

Bubble and Squeak Cakes . . .

Traditionally made with mashed potatoes, mixed with
some kind of leftovers; cabbage, carrots, Brussels sprouts,
etc. And made into one large cake, then shallow 
fried until crispy and brown.

No recipe in the book for this one, so I followed
Gordon Ramsay's version, with Brussels sprouts.

Very good! Thumbs up at our house.

Such an adorable format!

The next item from the menu that I made was
Irish Toasties.

There are many, many versions
of Toasties, limited only by your imagination.
Basically it's a toasted/baked cheese sandwich, with other things . . .

Again, no recipe in the book ~ but I followed this one
and used the Brown Bread I had made earlier.

It is very good, especially if you like the sweet and savory
flavor play.  You build it on a good, sturdy brown or
multi-grain bread, toasted. Smear with Fig jam, then
pile a mixture of grated white cheddar cheese (mixed
with, minced shallots, whole grain mustard, and beaten egg.)

Another really good recipe.



I made Mrs. Monahan's RaggaMuffins.

No recipe in the book, but used this one, for Maple Sugar
RaggaMuffins, I added some cinnamon to the filling. 
(You could substitute brown sugar for the Maple Sugar.)
Some like to ice them with Maple icing, but we thought
they were sweet enough. 

The texture is similar to a biscuit, rather than
traditional cinnamon roll.  Again, because no
yeast is involved, they go together quickly
and are really good with a cup of tea or coffee.

I would make them again, but would increase the amount
of cinnamon to maybe 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons.


Happy messages, and words of wisdom about
kindness are sprinkled throughout the book:

And the good changes that even the smallest kind gesture can make.


Ice cream really doesn't have anything to do with the
book ~ but it is an act of kindness to share some, yes?

This is real, honest to goodness homemade
Mint ice cream, no artificial colors.

I used David Lebovitz's recipe ~ you steep the
fresh mint leaves in warm milk, cool, then
combine with the egg custard mixture and chill before freezing.

His recipe goes a step further and he adds chocolate
to make Mint Chip ice cream. mmmmm.

It goes really well with a little slice of Shortbread, 
made with Irish butter, of course. ;-)

(My violets didn't produce many blossoms this year
so I made sugared violas instead, the color is not
as vibrant, but they are deliciously in mild flavor.)

If you grow mint, you know how out of control it 
can become unless you contain it. 

This recipe is a great way to use up quite
a bit of mint. The flavor doesn't scream
mint, it is more delicate.  You could add a
little pure mint extract and food color if you want it to taste
and look more like the commercial product.

Thank you for stopping by today friends!
I love when you leave me comments, I 
cherish each one. 

I'll close with this lovely and touching sentiment
from "Circle of Kindness" . . .

I'll have the recipe for the gluten-free/fat-free Amaretti cookies
(from Wednesday's post) over on my recipe blog a little later today.


Please stop by to see the magical goodness
my Novel Baker friends have in store for you!

--  Home is Where the Boat Is

--  A Quiet Life

--  Rattlebridge Farm

Have a good weekend everyone, 
and spread the kindness.  xoxo


  1. Absolutely beautiful Mari!! I delighted in noticing that we have some of the same tablecloths and plates :)

  2. So glad you made your connection with photos intact from your flight from Italy~ those International flights can be so frustrating! :)

    Your photos are such a feast for the eyes! I adore your wee cottage teacup and so fun that you prepared some humble offerings from The Inn Between, I was highly enteretained reading the menu! Love all your floral touches on the plates...your RagaMuffins are the perfect circles :) and look delicious! Thanks for your kind offer ice cream, I never turn it down, made all that more special with your sugared flowers...

    Thanks for allowing me to join your circle, I'm a little star struck, between you, MLW & Jain. Your talent is inspiring and photography is always stellar. I'm looking forward to an Amaretti cookie later today!

  3. Hi Pam and Mary! Thank you so much for your comments. They really do make my day!

    Pam, how fun that we have some of the same dishes!
    Mary, I feel so privileged to be in your company and Michael Lee and Jain... (out of my element is more like it!) Honestly, I am awaiting the gorgeous coffee table book of your recipes and tablescapes. Please tell me that is in your future! I'll be among the first in line.

    Pam, and a book of your photography. portraits and everyday life... I would swoop that up in a minute. Do you have something in the works?? That would be fantastic.

    Tapping my foot, waiting... for both of you. ;)

  4. Delightful, enchanting, mesmerizing and very creative!
    Beautiful photos and great recipes.

  5. What a nice comment! Thank you Bonnie!


  6. Thank you Jain! Some of your comments get stuck in my mailbox rather than posting here . . . it used to be only when you were at SeaDream.

    I'll post it here, because it means a lot to me (you are too generous with your praises my dear) , and you took the time to write it, so I would like to acknowledge it here as well.

    a quiet life has left a new comment on your post ""The Circle of Kindness" by Jana Kolpen & Mary Tie...":

    "oh such a pretty first pic to get us started, we all are girlie girls loving our flowers! AND YOUR TEA CUP! "

    oh my, didn't i hear you whining you didn't have props??? so perfect... such a crisp clean pic too, i always marvel at the intensity of your shots, you have this magic clarity in your pics, the colors are just a bit more intense and they always make my head cock to admire them~

    and you even have irish butter for you homemade bread! did you churn and wrap it too? its all so perfect... so mouthwatering, so irish, so charming...

    i was wild over the in between, how cute is that to begin with, especially enhanced though your eyes and lens and brought fresh to the table... i can't believe you made bubble and squeaks! oh my, will must love the novel bakers with all this extra special baking and cooking going on! and the toasties sound fabulous with the fig jam, cheddar and mustard, oh my, i am so impressed with you and gordy!

    look how gorgeous the raggamuffins look, how did they get such a scruffy name for such a beautiful treat! oh my, there goes my body listing again, you always make me ponder the pics more then any i ever see. they truly hypnotize me with the brilliance of your colors.

    and you even have forget me nots... with the tea cup i let out a huge sigh... the sigh of deep contentment... which beats rage and jealousy i could harbor for so much talent i am sorely lacking!

    omg on the random act of ice cream kindness!!!

    i wondered yesterday when you said you were up to elbows in bread, potatoes and ice cream what i was missing! mint sound so wonderful... and then to take my soft joyful feelings away to pure torment when you added the prettiest irish shortbread... you had an INCREDIBLE FEAST! and umm, yes, you do work well under pressure! fill a few 100 expletives in right here, i can't get over all this done in such short time. to make it all so pretty AND those professional high quality shots, no wonder your mac froze, even it was intimidated! scotts favorite ice cream is mint, you are spurring me on to keep the random acts alive ;-)

    thanks for completing the circle mr mac, for allowing mary to catch her flight to ireland, the world is a better place for it~

    i'll be honest with ya, i dread seeing your lavender, as much fun as i have creating, when i see your professional shots i always feel like i am holding a crayon to camera... i am going to learn how to drink lavender martinis that week and be oblivious to the hard cold facts, cheers to the future!

    Thank you Jain, your words are so kind... thank you for getting us organized. It's been fun (except this one b/c of computer malfunction.) Glad I have a chance to catch my breath before Lavender... (oy, in 100 F even here.) :p Have mercy on me.

  7. Mari, I've indulged myself with scrolling up and down though your posts for the Kolpen books. Wow, what amazing food shots. Each one a gem! This has been a magical week for me as each of you have shared your creative interpretation of each of these books. Incredibly talented individuals, the Novel Bakers! Thank you for sharing!

  8. G'day! Absolutely delightful Mari true!
    Love your creativity and your photos too!
    Cheers! Joanne
    What's On The List

  9. That was an awesome way to end a difficult day. The Irish recipes and the composition of your photos will help me sleep tonight.

    Thanks Mar!

    I will extend this to my niece in SF who married an Irish lad.

  10. Bubble and Squeak! Rich Irish ice cream, buttery scones. I'm in foodie heaven. I am also knee-deep in mint--it has invaded the rosemary, and here is the most perfect recipe, one that calls for this miscreant (but aromatic) herb. Mari, the clarity of your photos are jaw-droppingly beautiful. You have tapped into the heart of Irish cuisine, and you've graced it with your inimitable touches. This is a post to savor and to remember. I'm looking forward to many NB excursions with you, Mary, and Jain. So happy and honored to be in this Circle of Kindness. xxoo

  11. I can spot your style anywhwre:)
    Loved this gebtle walk through the book..
    All the special and recipes..
    I was able to find..Della Luna..but not this one..I alerted my friend in Sa Fran for her though..Ireland is where she met her husband..and lived for many years..
    She adores it..
    The last passage is exactly what I meant about her books making this world a better place.~

  12. Oh my, such very kind comments from each one of you sweet ladies. Your words are like a gift to me, a gift of kindness. Thank you! You've truly made my week.

    Thank YOU for spreading the kindness everybody!

  13. This is all so gorgeous. I can't believe the amount of work involved in this post, yet I thank you for gifting us with this and each post.

  14. I must confess Mari, that I didn't even visit you for the Circle of Kindness post until today~I was on visual overload from the Novel Bakers incredible posts all week! As Friday neared I decided to spread them out over the weekend so I could really savor them slowly. It has been so much fun to experience these books through 4 different sets of eyes and styles~your food descriptions are mouth watering, I want to make and taste everything! Your photos seem effortless yet I know they took hours of planning. Thank you so much for such a special trip this week, I am anxiously awaiting the first book to arrive next week so I can't experience it first hand.

  15. Mary, this is simply beautiful! Thank you so much!
    Mary Tiegreen & Jana Kolpen

  16. Mari, I just found time to enjoy this beautiful post :-) looking forward to your lavender.


Thank you for your comments, friends ~ they make my day!

A Sampling of my food . . .


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