Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Light Between Oceans

Question:  Where do two oceans meet in western Australia ? Name the place.
Answer: Southwestern corner at Cape Leeuwin.

The Light Between Oceans is a mesmerizing debut novel written by Australian born author M.L.(Margot) Stedman. The story is set on a tiny island off the coast of Western Australia, where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean. It explores the moral consequences of love and desire. 
Tom Sherbourne is the lighthouse keeper at Janus Rock. The position suits him well since it affords him peace after the horrors of World War I. During one of his infrequent visits to the mainland he develops a relationship with the spirited Isabel Graysmark.  Eventually they marry and settle on Janus Rock. Their marriage is tested when Isabel suffers several miscarriages. One day a boat adrift comes to shore with a dead man inside and a baby girl who is alive. Isabel convinces Tom they have been granted a gift. Lucy becomes the light of their lives. But when Tom learns the devastating truth he is torn between guilt and innocence, love and duty.
This book was a thought provoking read that often left me questioning the fine line of what is right and wrong and what are our moral obligations. Stedman has created likable characters that as the reader you didn't want to begrudge them happiness after many years of despair.  
Stedman's skillful writing captures the atmosphere of time and place. Set in the aftermath of WWI her characters are just adjusting to the losses of war. Her use of language makes the isolation of the island and the lore associated with the lighthouse life come alive. 

Janus Rock was a square mile of green, with enough grass to feed the few sheep and goats and the handful of chickens and  enough topsoil to sustain the rudimentary  vegetable patch. The only trees were two towering Norfolk Pines planted by the crews from Point Partageuse who had built the lighthouse over thirty years before, in 1889.  A cluster of old graves remembered a shipwreck long before that, when the Pride of Birmingham foundered on the greedy rocks in daylight.
This novel lends itself for book club discussion.   
Cherry Barbecue Sauce
Cook's notes: This sauce is great on any type of grilled poultry, pork or salmon. It can be made ahead for convenience. The sauce is served warm or at room temperature. The recipe called for 1/8 tsp. ground cloves but I found that a bit overpowering so use it sparingly like a pinch. 
I basted the meat with the sauce during grilling and then served it over the cooked meat.   
Recipe has been adapted from Bon Appetit magazine 
  • 1 cup low salt chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup cherry preserves
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1-10 package of frozen sweet dark cherries-thawed
  •  2 TB. cornstarch 
  • 1/4 cup cherry brandy (optional
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade 
  • 1 TB. ketchup
  • Combine chicken broth, cherry preserves, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon peel, cinnamon, dash of cloves in a heavy saucepan
  • Boil over medium heat until broth mixture is reduced to 1-1/2 cups about 6 minutes
  • Whisk cherry brandy and cornstarch together or some of the juice from thawed frozen cherries if not using cherry brandy
  • Add this mixture to reduced broth mixture, cherries with juice, cornstarch, orange marmalade and ketchup
  • Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly till sauce thickens
  • Reduce heat and cook on low about 5-8 minutes
Cherry Barbecue Sauce Over Turkey 

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