A Tale and A Treat

This is a new segment for us here at River North Fiction. Our “A Tale and A Treat” blog series will highlight one of our titles and pair it with a tasty recipe. Today’s pairing is Hawaiian Crosswinds by Linda Lee Chaikin and Hawaiian Butter Cookies by Brittany Biggs.


Sandy Beaches Beckon

Being a life-long suburbanite, I’ve spent most of my days in or around a city—Chicago in particular. My husband and I live hectic lives with work, children, school, church, and the average amount of crazy busyness that most contemporary families face today. Once a year in the summer we take a week-long vacation. In my world the new year begins about the first of August, with the close of our summer vacation. My husband is an academic so this schedule is as natural to our family as the rhythm of the tide.

I was reading Linda Chaikin’s second installment of The Dawn of Hawaii Series, Hawaiian Crosswinds, when there was still snow on the ground. I enjoyed scenes of sandy beaches not unlike summers at the beach home of my husband’s bother, Linc and his wife Jule’ (although the fringed coconut trees would need to be replaced with powerful oaks).  In the opening scene I was transported. Linda writes:

The ocean murmured restlessly. Silhouettes of fringed coconut trees bent into the rising wind, their tall, slim trunks standing stark against the deepening skyline. Clouds tumbled along as if in a race for time.

She builds a colorful world with the historic backdrop of Hawaii as it develops into a state. With layers of intrigue, treachery, murder, and conspiracy, Rafe and Eden try to hang on to the love they share as political tensions mount. The story transported me to  the warm shores of 1890’s Pacific Ocean islands and kept me wondering if the family and political secrets would pull the pair apart.  

To read more of the story check out the excerpt of Hawaiian Crosswinds under “New.” Then enjoy reading the rest of Rafe and Eden’s story during your summer vacation—hopefully on any beach you can find. Even if it isn’t the beautiful shores of the Hawaiian Islands, you will feel as if you’re there.

–Deb Keiser

Acquisitions Editor


Hawaiian Coconut Butter Cookies

When I was in culinary school, one of the first desserts we made was coconut macaroons. I decided to step outside of the box and added chocolate chips to mine. There was a young man in my class who kept telling everyone how allergic he was to coconut. Well, you can imagine how surprised I was when this same guy popped on of my cookies into his mouth once they were done. I about had a heart attack, as did he, when I yelled, “Hey, those have coconut, you might die!” He immediately spit it out and only puffed up a little bit around his mouth. It turns out he saw me add the chocolate chips, and thought I didn’t add the coconut. I learned my lesson that day, people are not always as bright as you hope they will be (coconut is pretty distinct visually), and baking can be a weapon! People are allergic to many different things out there and a lot of them can be found in innocent cookies. Please warn your friends of the coconut and Macadamia nuts if you should use them. No one needs to have a heart attack. With that all said, these cookies were very well received at Moody Publishers where we had a little taste test. Here are some pictures of people trying the cookies and a few of the quoted responses:


“OHHHHHHHHHHHHH, these are REALLY good.”–Deb 

“Perfect balance—not too coconut-ty or pineapple-ly. The texture is incredible! Paradise in my mouth.”–Holly 

“MMMMM….This is serious business! So good!”–Adam 

“MMMM…Almond! I love almond!”–Judy

“Really good but I prefer them without the coconut.”–Ann

(There’s one in every bunch who doesn’t enjoy the taste of coconut. The recipe can be made without it.)

Here are the ingredients:

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup canned pineapple juice
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pineapple, papaya, or mango preserves
  • Shredded coconut

Simply combine the butter and sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add in the egg and mix well. Mix in the pineapple juice and almond extract. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and mix until combined. Drop the dough by the teaspoonful onto a baking sheet and create a small divot in the dough to place a dime size amount of the preserves right before baking. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Top with coconut (optional) once cookies are removed from the oven and are still warm. Here is a side note, we were discussing these cookies and thought that the addition of about 1/2 cup of chopped Macadamia nuts would really add a great flavor and crunchy texture to these cookies. They also add a bite more of a Hawaiian flavor and vibe.

These cookies turned out to be light and perfectly sweet. They taste tropical and make a great treat to eat while you are reading Hawaiian Crosswinds.

–Brittany Biggs

    • Pam
    • June 23rd, 2011

    What a great idea to pair a tale and a treat! I look forward to many mmmmore entries!

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