Friday, August 15, 2014

Recipe Weekend / Book Review: Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good by Kathleen Flinn

Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this product, free of charge, from Penguin Publishing,, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it

back to school button

And now for a book that will likely bring back some shared memories,
and many smiles and laughs!

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good cover


Kathleen Flinn has found her way into the hearts of readers, cooks, and food lovers everywhere with her New York Times best selling books.This  new book delves into the origins of Flinn’s love of all things culinary. Hearing the touching and hilarious adventures and misadventures of her clan will put readers in mind of their own quirky family history and the flavors of their childhoods.

The food we grow up with often tells our family history, and that’s certainly true of the Flinns. Until Flinn began looking into the lives of her ancestors, she hadn’t realized how many of them cooked, either for a living or as a hobby. Flinn tells the story of her maternal and paternal grandparents, her besotted parents, and her motley group of siblings. Flinn takes readers from San Francisco in 1958 where her parents helped her Uncle Clyde run a pizza place (at that time, a rarity) to a farm in Davison, Michigan in 1964 where the family roots were, to Anna Maria Island, Florida in 1976 where they found a second home. Foodie tales of fishing trips (her father’s favorite way to relax), canning season, discovering morels in the woods, and finally getting to eat popular processed foods, mingle with family stories of a shady grandfather, unsuccessful entrepreneurial ventures, and gaining membership to the German-American club . . . despite having no German ancestry.

Flinn’s Grandma Inez inspired the title with a phrase she liked to use when trying to get a picky child to eat—“Burnt toast makes you sing good. Everyone knows that.” she’d quip. After reading about Grandma Inez’s wisdom, Grandpa Charles’s love for chili powder, and Mom Flinn’s mishap with the chicken coop, readers will be ready to run into the kitchen to try one of the recipes that ends each chapter. Grandma Inez’s Pancakes, Grandpa Charles’s “Mich-Mex” Chili, and Chicken and Biscuits are just a few of the mouth-watering dishes that Flinn shares from the family recipe book.

Kathleen is a born storyteller! Her books grab you from page one, and hold onto you and your imagination, until the last page is turned, so it's no surprise that this book is full of charm and wit as well! To be it was pretty much like strolling back through my childhood-  family moving across country, working moms, reading the entire set of encyclopedias, family canning days, road trip vacations, Chevy Vegas, ill tasting TV dinners that seemed like 'the thing', parties at the VFW, and life lessons learned at the knee of crazy relatives. We've all been there. This book will have you laughing and crying!

But the reason it falls under Recipe Weekend, as with my family- love is shared from the food we make, the recipes we hand down, and the traditions shared over cooking those recipes for family functions and get-togethers. Kathleen shares her family's recipes in the book, along with tales of when they were used and how some of them came about. I smiled to see my grandmother's Coney Island chili recipe as Flint-Style Coney Islands. The sauce is 'wetter' than traditional Coney Island sauce, and grandma always seemed to get hers that way, but not on purpose! Isn't it funny how recipes can be many states away from each other (Michigan versus New Hampshire)? I had to laugh at the quote below- so typical of what both my grandmothers would have said- a variation of the 'did I give you cereal or toast ?, NO I COOKED for you'! 

This book is a quick read- perfect for reading a chapter here and there, like in car line picking up the kids, or waiting on them at practice after school!  It also would make a great Christmas present for your siblings or mother (132 days and counting!), and I highly recommend it!


This is a traditional recipe, with a surprisingly modern twist (turmeric!), but with everyone getting into canning, and home gardeners having LOTS of cucumbers this year, I thought it would be a great recipe to share from the book!

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good bread and butter pickles recipe

About the Author

KATHLEEN FLINN and her books have been featured in PeopleELLEBon AppetitThe Wall Street Journal, and on NPR and CBS Morning News. Her first book, The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry was a New York Times bestseller. Her acclaimed second book, The Kitchen Counter Cooking School was named a 2012 Nonfiction Book of the Year by the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Learn more at her website,


  1. Love the title of the book! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  2. The cover of this book makes me want to read it - I like the concept. This is definitely something I would add to my collection.


Follow Bless Their Hearts Mom