KATERINA’S WISH Launches (Along With its Official Companion Snack!)

Launch week is finally here for Jeannie Mobley’s gorgeous debut novel, Katerina’s Wish, and all of us at EMU’s Debuts couldn’t be happier to be celebrating it! We have a variety of fun festivities planned for every day this week, so we hope that you’ll join us back here as the week goes on. But there’s no need to stop there! You can also take the party home with you by winning a signed copy of Katerina’s Wish (scroll down to the end of this post to find out how to enter) and by cooking up a batch of homemade plum dumplings to munch on while you read.

Plum what? you ask. Plum dumplings (known as svestkove knedliky in Czech) are the official companion snack for Katerina’s Wish, thanks to their presence in a key early scene in the book. As a favorite meal from Katerina’s native Bohemia—which her family has left behind to come to America, where they struggle to make ends meet in a Colorado coal camp—the dumplings loom large psychologically as a reminder both of the sweetness of home and the luxuries they can no longer afford.

But when a series of lucky coincidences—or is it a wish granted by a magic fish?—bring the family into possession of some plums, a very special meal results. Here’s the author herself reading from the scene in the book:

If, after reading this scene, you find yourself with a hankering to try this Bohemian treat, you’re in luck! With the help of Jeannie and our fellow Colorado-dwelling debut author Melanie Crowder, I am going to take you through the steps for making your very own plum dumplings at home.

Step 1: Find an affordable source of plums.

In Katerina’s Wish, Katerina is able to buy plums for the bargain price of 1 cent per can. Pretty good, but not quite as cheap as free plums from Melanie’s tree!

Gather up as many debut authors as you can find, and start picking.

Step 2: Find a good plum dumpling recipe.

Oh, how convenient—author Jeannie Mobley already has one up on her website.

Step 3: Remove plum pits.

The easiest way I managed to do this was to cut each plum in half…

…then put the two halves back together before wrapping them up in dough.

Step 4: Make dumpling dough.

You will need flour, milk, eggs, salt, melted butter, and a big bowl to mix them in.

Using the proportions from Jeannie’s recipe, combine and mix. You may start off using a fork…

…but will probably end up with your hands in there sooner or later!

Step 5: Press or roll out the dough.

Grab a small ball of dough and press it out until you have a flat piece that’s large enough to wrap around a whole plum.

This method is a bit laborious, so if you have a rolling pin and a husband handy, you may want to press (haha) the two into service preparing flattened dough pieces for you. (No picture, alas, but trust me that it’s an excellent method.)

Step 6: Assemble the dumplings.

Place your two plum halves inside the dough pancake and wrap’em up!

Bonus step 6.5: Strongarm the author herself into wrapping some up for you!

Step 7: Boil in salted water for 8 minutes.

Keeping the dumplings in one layer is smart.

Step 8: Garnish, and enjoy!

With a bit of melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon on top, these dumplings are divine.

The dumplings are a treat on their own, or you could serve them as part of a larger Bohemian-style dinner like Katerina’s family does (though the “grisly meat” and “bread spread with salted lard” that they eat may not be to everyone’s taste). And to make the meal even more festive, you can bestow an “Aneshka Award” on the person in your party who eats the most plum dumplings—named for Trina’s sister, who “ate so many we all thought she would be sick, and Momma made her stop.” (At our gathering, Jeannie’s son and my husband vied mightily for this award.)

No matter how you enjoy them, you’ll probably agree with Trina that “they were the best things I ate since we had left Bohemia”—almost as good as the delicious book that inspired them. 🙂


Would you like to enter to win a signed copy of Katerina’s Wish by Jeannie Mobley? All you have to do is leave a comment below telling us about your favorite childhood food, or a food that takes you back to your childhood when you eat it now. We’ll draw a winner next Tuesday, August 28—which is also the official release date for Katerina’s Wish!


Filed under Book Promotion, Celebrations, Promotion

55 responses to “KATERINA’S WISH Launches (Along With its Official Companion Snack!)

  1. Love this post. Congrats, Jeannie!


  2. Reblogged this on A Writer's Notepad and commented:
    I am proud to have once been a member of Jeannie’s critique group, and thrilled that she is published at last, as I always knew she would be! Congratulations, Jeannie!


  3. Cathy Ballou Mealey

    Congratulations on the launch of KATERINA Jeannie!
    I don’t feel ambitious enough to tackle plum dumplings today, but it certainly is a fun phrase to say. Example: Drop a rock on your foot? “Ouch! Plum dumplings!”
    My taste of childhood food is homemade bran bread from my grandmother’s recipe (aka the one on the side of the All Bran box).


  4. My dad’s mashed potatoes. He uses a potato ricer so there are no lumps, and makes them with cream cheese. They are so unbelievably creamy. Yum! 🙂

    Congratulations on your book launch, Jeannie!


  5. Cynthia Levinson

    What a fabulous post! Anyone want a recipe for my grandmother’s kuchen or kugel?


    • Ooh, was that a serious author, Cynthia? I would love it!
      I’m not competing for my own book here, but I thought I would add in that yesterday, I canned up 12 quarts of my great-grandmother’s spicy sweet pickles. They are unlike any other pickles I have ever tasted, and they are so good. Super crisp, with a bite of cinnamon. The only sweet pickles I like. They also take two weeks to make, with a series of different salt water and pickle brine baths that they go through. Let’s hear it for Grandmas and all the time they spent in the kitchen back in the day!


      • Cynthia Levinson

        Sure thing, Jeannie. The kuchen takes about a day to make. I’ll start with the kugel. Coming soon.


    • I’ll take the recipes too, Cynthia! 🙂


  6. Now that’s the way to launch a book! Delicious post! Congrats, Jeannie!


  7. beckylevine

    This is going to tell you how much I want to win Jeannie’s book–I’m going to admit that my favorite food as a child was Uncle Ben’s white rice, with lots of butter. Yes, I was totally a picky eater–I ate what I had to of everything else my mom cooked, but then I’d fill up on rice. And, yes, rice is still one of my comfort foods. 🙂

    Those dumplings look delicious. Are those the little plums that we used to call “prune plums?” Those are the BEST!

    Congrats,Jeannie! Can’t wait to read the book.


    • They were damson plums, Becky, a little, tart old fashioned variety, not as sweet as Italian prune plums. I did a little research on them and learned that they are a heritage variety that dates all the way back to the Roman empire days! Most of the Eastern European recipes I found called for Damson plums, so we were lucky that’s what Melanie had growing in her yard.


  8. Woo hoo!! Happy Book Birthday Week, Jeannie!
    As a kid I loved La Choy Chicken Chow Mein from the can. (In my defense, I grew up in a small town that was basically a Chinese food vacuum.) When we were newly married I cooked up a batch for The Best Mate and… wow, not at all how I remembered it! Couldn’t get the taste out of our mouths until we finally got some good authentic NY Chinese take out!
    Those dumplings look scrumptious! I’m assuming they don’t come in a can 😉


    • Haha! I had the same exact experience with the La Choy Chicken Chow Mein cans, Laurie!


      • Can’t say I ever liked La Choy Chicken Chow Mein in the cans, but I had a similar experience with Spaghetti Ohs in college. My mom never bought them as a kid, I only got to eat them at other people’s houses, so I thought they were great. When I got to college and could buy my own food, I stocked up, then discovered they weren’t nearly as good as I remembered!


  9. Happy book birthday party week, Jeannie! So happy to be celebrating this wonderful achievement. As for the plum dumplings, my mouth is positively watering! I want them, now! I want the author herself to fly over to me and make them for me! (Sorry for the Veruca Salt moment but they sound so good, and oh, those pictures!) Anyway, I love your book so much that even though I read the ARC, and even though the real version is on its way to me as we speak, I STILL want to enter this contest. Oh, well, it’s good to pass along such an awesome prize to our beloved Emu readers…


  10. patzm

    My grandmother made apple turnovers with — I think — cottage cheese in the dough. Delicious, although I haven’t had them in years.


  11. Mike Jung

    HOORAY FOR JEANNIE!!! I’ve already ordered my copy of KATERINA’S WISH so I’m all set, but a food that always takes me back to childhood is cha chang myun (자장면), noodles with black bean sauce, preferably with beef and plenty of onions. I was known in my family for ordering it every time we went to a Korean or Chinese restaurant.


  12. Natalie Dias Lorenzi

    Congratulations, Jeannie! I also ordered my own copy of KATERINA’S WISH and will order it this fall for our school library, as well. I’m embarrassed to say that my favorite childhood food was PB&J. Ho hum. My mother-in-law makes plum dumplings, called gnocchi ai sussini, which are a slice of heaven. Congratulations again!


  13. J

    I’m’a make me some plum dumplings. No tree in my yard, though. Will have to go to the farmers’ market soon!

    My food would have to be sugary cereals. My mom would never buy them for us except for special occasions, and eating Lucky Charms and Frosted Flakes still makes me feel slightly illicit.

    Congrats, Jeannie!


  14. Donna

    Congratulations Jeannie! Your dumplings remind me of my childhood when my german grandmother would make Dampfnudel, which is a little similar to your plum dumplings only they had a crunchy brown bottom on them…yum, yum…think I’ll try your this week!


  15. Congrats, Jeannie! Now why don’t you write a book for next year featuring apple tarts or quince pie and then we can do this all over again next summer?


    • I have a manuscript out there where they make apple and cherrie pies pretty often (it is set in a cafe, so there is a lot of food in that one!) I’ve never made or eaten quince pie, so that’s enough of a reason, isn’t it? I mean, if I’m going to feature it in a book, I need to try it first so I can describe it, right?


  16. Love this post. Congrats, Jeannie, and I can’t wait to read more about Trina and her family! One food that always takes me back to my childhood is homemade macaroni and cheese. Sadly, my own kids prefer Kraft. 😦


  17. Congratulations, Jeannie! The recipe sounds yummy! I wonder if it would work with peaches…
    The recipe that takes me back to my childhood, or at least my teen years is my mom’s 3-layer (some call it a 5 or 7 layer) dip. With guacamole: avocado, La Victoria’s Mild Green Taco Sauce, garlic powder, lemon juice and touch of sour cream (no exact amounts, just all mixed to taste). First, she would either spread a layer of Frito Lay’s Bean Dip or just use Rosarita Refried beans, then the guacamole, then a layer of sour cream, grated cheddar, diced tomatoes, and maybe some sliced black olives. To be eaten with the large dipping size Frito Lay Corn Chips.


    • I think it would work with peaches, or apricots too. I made this another time with a sweeter plum and it wasn’t as good, so you might want a tangier variety of peach. But the Colorado peaches are coming in, so I will have to give it a try and let you know. Or you can let me know.

      Someone brought that dip to a party I was at just last week. Next time I eat it, I will think of you!


  18. Kathy Duval

    Happy Launch Day! I’ve ordered my KATERINA’S WISH, too, and can’t wait to read it. What comes to mind now is my mother’s fresh-out-of-the-oven potato bread, spread with butter and my grandmother’s wild plum jam.

    Congratulations, Jeannie!


  19. I have to say that I’m a bit jealous of the people who have childhood memories of lovely homemade dishes. My “special treat” meal as a kid was hot dogs, tater tots, and baked beans from a can!

    Happy launch, Jeannie! I can’t wait to read KATERINA again, this time from my own beautiful hardcover.


    • I had a health food, make everything at home, no processed foods sort of mom, so I grew up feeling a little jealous of all you people who got hot dogs, tater tots and baked beans. I have to say, I still have a real weakness for Tater tots.

      One of my husband’s favorite comfort meals is hot dogs and rice, with soy sauce mixed in with the ketchup. I guess that’s the Japanese American equivalent of your favorite!


  20. Congratulations, Jeannie! What a fun way to start off your launch week. My favorite food as a kid was pepperoni pizza. (And I must admit, it still ranks way up there.)


  21. WOOO HOOO! KATARINA’S WISH is finally here. Congratulations, Jeannie. My favorite food from childhood would have to be crunchy peanut butter melted on toast. MMMMMM!
    Have a great week!


  22. Oh, Hooray! Happy launch, Jeannie! Those dumplings look delicious, and remind me of a child favourite — fried Jamaican dumplings. Totally incongruous and unrealistic, but if I could do a childhood happy memory mash-up I’d have some of those dumplings along with ackee and codfish while sitting in the courtyard of the Eko hotel in Lagos, with an orange Fanta or glass of tonic water that made me feel very sophisticated.


  23. Cynthia Levinson

    Some of you asked for my grandmother’s kuchen recipe. Her name was Bertha Newman Levin, and, for some reason lost to ancient history, we called her “Mom Bert.” So, here is “Mom Bert’s Kuchen.” This is, literally, not for the faint of heart, as you’ll see by the amount of fat.
    Her first direction was, “All ingredients and the kitchen must be warm. Also, you have to scald your hands a little bit.”
    Ingredients. (Please do not ask me for amounts of ingredients where they do not exist. Measuring is so new-fangled.) 4 eggs, 2/3 c oil, 1 stick of butter, 1 stick of margarine, some more butter and margarine, a little Crisco, 1 pt of sour cream, 2/3 c. + 2 tsp. of sugar, 1/2 bowl of flour, 2 pkgs of yeast, cinnamon sugar, lots of nuts, raisins, and jam (“the more the better”)
    Dissolve the yeast in warm water with 2 tsp sugar. Mix this into the 1/2-bowl of flour. Mix the eggs, oil, sour cream, and 2/3 c. sugar. Add this mixture to the flour mixture and stir until mixed. Knead and pound this mixture in the bowl (this is where you scald your hands first) for 10-15 minutes. The dough will stick to everything. Lightly flour a board; dump the sticky dough onto the board and knead another 10 minutes or so. Fill the bowl with warm water, dump and wipe it out, and grease the bowl with Crisco. Put the dough in the bowl, cover it with waxed paper and a towel. Let it rise for 1 1/2 hours; you can do this once or twice.
    Melt the butter with the margarine. Punch down the dough, dump it onto a floured board, and divide it into 3 or 4 balls. With each of the balls, do the following: Roll it into a circle, 10″ to 14″ in diameter. Spread it with the melted butter mixture. Then, sprinkle it with cinnamon-sugar, chopped nuts, and raisins. (I also recommend chocolate chips.) Roll up jelly-roll fashion and pull the ends into a ring. Place the ring on a greased cookie sheet. Snip the ring (not all the way through) at 2″ intervals and spread slightly apart. Brush the tops and exposed innards with more melted butter/margarine and more cinnamon sugar. You can also add dollops of jam to the cuts, which case, sprinkle the cuts with Kellogg’s Corn Flakes crumbs; or, you could have spread the whole thing with jam before you rolled it up. Or, you could spread the dough with ground, pitted, re-hydrated prunes or apricots.
    Let it rise again. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.


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