The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 9 No. 36 - May 27, 2009


Sun readers review Cordon Bleu memoir

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER Sandra Ashbrook solves
problems using classic chiropractic principles.

The Sun Readers met recently to discuss "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter and Tears in Paris at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School" by part-time Island resident Kathleen Flinn.

Flinn had turned 36 when she suddenly lost her mid-management corporate job in London. A friend, the man who later became her husband, challenged her to pursue her dream and take the course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Flinn, who had worked as a journalist, took the challenge, successfully completed the three levels of classes at the school, and turned her experience into this book.

The author lives half of the year here on Anna Maria and the other half in Seattle.

The fact that Flinn lives part-time on the Island was of particular interest to the Sun Readers, and one reader had met the author when she was doing a book signing at a wine tasting event at Time Saver in Holmes Beach.

"She seemed really nice and interesting," Joan Dickinson. "She was someone I think I’d like to sit down and talk a while with."

Birgit Quam, who has never met Flinn, said reading the book made her wish she could sit down and have a glass of wine with the author to talk over her Parisian experience and her life on the Island.

Flinn’s book chronicles the classes she took, the teaching chefs, her fellow culinary students, shopkeepers she encounters in her neighborhood, details about her neighborhood and life in Paris.

There was admiration for Flinn’s strength in having the courage to enroll in the school.

"She had a dream and pursued it to the limit," Betsy Smith said. "Not many of us could do that. It takes guts."

The descriptions in the book were of particular interest to the readers.

"I really like reading recipes, and it was interesting to read about what they cooked in the classes," Louise Bolger noted.

Other readers were also interested in the cooking. " I liked reading about how they organized the food and the workspace."

"When I read her description of how to make mashed potatoes — ‘take equal parts butter and potatoes’ —that’s way too rich," Quam said.

"The descriptions of those chefs, how temperamental and critical they were was something I liked," Charlene Doll said. "I don’t cook. I like plain food. I don’t like sauce, and if it needs sauce, I add ketchup."

All the talking about the classes and the food in the book and Doll’s statements about food in her life, brought laughter, and then the discussion took a turn to the centrality of food and eating in the human experience.

"There is the whole ambience of food and nurturing in this book," Dickinson remarked.

Bolger said she grew up with family dinners taking precedence over other activities.

"And I still like to have dinner parties where we sit around the table for hours talking," she said.

Smith said she isn’t much of a cook.

"When I first got married, somebody gave me a book called "101 Ways to Cook Hot Dogs," she said. "I went through at least 70 of them before my husband said he had enough hot dogs."

After the laughter died on that one, Quam mentioned that growing up in the North Friesian Islands where there wasn’t much to eat, her family’s diet consisted primarily of sea gull eggs and wild rabbits.

Everyone wanted to know what a sea gull egg was like.

"The yolk is bright red," she reported. "If you make pancakes, they’re pink. That’s what we had."

Quam said that because of her childhood, she doesn’t waste anything at all. She uses her leftovers by making a big pot of soup, much like Flinn describes the "minestrone" her mother made to use up leftovers.

Discussing the book brought some interesting turns in the conversation. Almost everyone liked certain aspects of the book with the exception of Bobbie Gordon, who is just not a fan of memoirs.

The readers rated the book as a three on a five-point scale, with five representing the best book the readers have ever picked up.

They would recommend it to Island residents. They found the fact that Flinn spends part of the year here and had her wedding on the beach to be of particular interest.

They also said they’d recommend the book to anyone who likes reading about cooking.

Reader Cindi Mansour, who was unable to come the evening of the discussion, said that she had loved the descriptions of Paris, and she’d recommend the book to anyone who loves that city.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story
Making the stimulus work for you

Investment Corner

Opinions about the recent federal action to spend money to provide a kick-in-the-pants to our economy are widely varied and definitely polarizing in conversation. It is not my objective to debate the merits or chances of success of any particular program here in The Sun with my 500 to 600 word allotment. I think a better use of this space is to cover some of the ways individual families and business owners can use the stimulus to their benefit, and, by extension, help the actions reach their desired effect.

A major point of the stimulus package was to promote energy efficiency and development of new technology. In general, expenditures for home improvements made in 2009 and 2010 related to energy efficiency will receive a tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of the improvement with a cap of $1,500 combined over the two-year period. Certain upgrades are not subject to the cap, such as geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, wind energy and some fuel cells.

Hybrid electric cars also qualify for a tax credit of at least $2,500 for the first 200,000 sold nationwide in 2009. The credit can be even better based on the capacity of the battery, and caps out at $7,500

Even gasoline powered cars come with a break. State and local sales and excise taxes on the first $49,500 spent on a new car are now deductible against income for calculation of federal income tax for 2009. The vehicle must be purchased before Dec. 31, 2009 and the deduction gets phased out for joint tax filers earning more than $250,000 ($125,000 for individual filers).

First time homebuyers get a leg up with a tax credit of up to 10 percent of the price of the new home with a cap of $8,000. The home must be purchased by Dec. 31, 2009 and income limits are $150,000 for joint filers and $75,000 for individuals. This credit may not apply to most residents of Anna Maria Island and northwest Bradenton, but all younger folks who are considering making that first purchase should be made aware of these incentives.

Small business owners will find expanded deductions for items ranging from equipment purchase expensing (section 179), accelerated depreciation schedules for equipment purchased in 2009, applying losses from operations in 2008 back up to four years instead of the usual two and hiring incentives.

More information on these and other available tax deductions and credits are available at or

Of course, consulting your tax professional would be a good idea before spending the money on something and finding out the tax credit doesn’t apply to you for some reason.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

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