Laurel is converting a greasy spoon into a gastropub: What menu items can she keep on the menu?
Laurel has quite a learning curve to go through to adjust her prejudices against some of the comfort food that Sullivan’s offered before she got there. She asks the regulars what they like and after a couple of missteps, she finds a balance. The burgers remain, as do the chicken fingers, but she ups the game with things like top quality meat and a panko coating on the chicken fingers. She keeps the buffalo wings but adds a better side dish to offset their heat. And then there are her homemade rather than shop-bought desserts… which make her irresistible to Jonah.
Why did Jonah and Laurel break up originally?
Their initial relationship, ten years ago, was a heady three-month rush of an affair, kept secret because Jonah was the town bad boy and Laurel was the good girl. The secrecy added to the spice. But Jonah had a lot of issues to work through, and back then he was numbing them with alcohol. Laurel was falling in love with him, but her father was an alcoholic and she knew the path Jonah might be going down was one she couldn’t help him out of. So she broke up with him. Ironically, her actions made him re-evaluate his life and he stopped drinking.
Why do you think Jonah picked psychology?
All the Van Allen brothers, at their core, want to help people, and this determined their career paths. For Jonah, his own journey through therapy made him want to help others the same way. He’s also an observer and so can keep his own feelings separate from his clients’. Unfortunately, he keeps them from himself as well.
What is Laurel’s favorite thing to cook? Do you have a recipe for us?
After Jonah’s reaction to her brownies, I think that recipe would be her favorite, and I’ve added it at the back of Forget Me. But her recipe for Mint Sauce really sends him over the edge, and it’s not something I see often in the U.S. This is my mum’s recipe and was my dad’s responsibility with roast lamb for Sunday lunch.
Wash and pull the leaves from the stems of a bunch of mint, discarding the ratty-looking ones. Put the leaves on a chopping board and sprinkle 1½-2 teaspoons of sugar over them. Get your biggest chopping knife and chop the leaves up small. This part will smell amazing. Put the chopped leaves in a sauce bowl and add 2-3 teaspoons of white wine vinegar. This will also smell amazing. Then pour enough boiled water over to about half-cover the leaves. Stir and leave for a few seconds to melt the sugar. Take a sniff of the whole thing because… yes, it smells amazing. You can add more sugar or vinegar to taste. Spoon over grilled lamb chops and hand-feed to tasty neighbors!
What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Adriana Herrera’s American Dreamer. A wonderful, authentic voice that makes me want to go find an Afro-Caribbean restaurant, stat! For Mother’s Day my daughters gave me Tracey Garvis Graves’ The Girl He Used to Know, and I can’t wait to get stuck in to this second-chance romance.
Kimberley Ash is a British expat who has lived in and loved New Jersey for twenty years. When not writing romance or romantic women’s fiction, she can usually be found cleaning up after her two big white furry dogs and slightly less furry children. You can reach her at www.kimberleyash.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.