Friday, March 15, 2013

Book Club Fun, Food, and Friendship

by Ann

There are few things I can think of that are more satisfying and fun than combining a great book with the company and conversation of good friends (and some wine, of course!).  A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison is a such a book, and was this month's selection for our book club.  Although the "rule" is that the month's hostess chooses the book, the one I had to suggest was Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer, and although good, would not have led to as rich a discussion as the one Kathy suggested.

Prior to establishing our book club Sheila, Heather, and I would pass books among one another when we came across one that we thought the others would enjoy.  In fact, our club started as a result of a book about a book club that Sheila first read and then shared.  The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler was the fun, quick read that inspired us several years ago to gather a group of friends to read, and every bit as importantly, gather monthly for one night a month that we all hold sacred.  Even though many evening commitments crop up in my job, everyone in my office is aware that book club will always trumps work, and Sheila plans her work scheduled flights around the second Monday night of each month.
There are eight women in our group, ranging in age, marital status, and occupation, although most of us have some connection to education-related jobs.  We take the summers off due to vacation schedules, but still get together a couple of times for informal floats in someone's pool.  We've said that we'll talk about whatever each of us is reading at the time, but most of the summer chat is not book related.  At the beginning of the "book year" a schedule is created so everyone can anticipate when it is her turn to choose a book and to host with dinner or snacks.

There is no obligation to prepare food related to the theme of the book, but when feasible it's fun to try to make the connection.  (Clutter Busting might have been difficult, but I could have gotten away with being a minimalist!)  One of the best theme-related meals was at Sheila's when each of us put salmon in foil pouches with veggies and seasonings to be placed in her outdoor fireplace which served as our campfire to go along with the conversation about A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson; a book about two hikers taking on the Appalachian Trail.  
Our Friendship, Life and Style blog originated as an inspiration from one of my other book picks over a year ago.  A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg was written as a result of her successful food blog.  It's her memoir of fond recollections of time spent with her father who was a physician, but also a great cook.  Each chapter includes several amazing recipes, so it was a no-brainer for me to find delicious recipes to prepare for dinner for that book club gathering!

So, back to this month's book...  A Walk in the Sun is set in multiple locations, and is about two young Indian girls who get kidnapped and forced to be part of the sex slave trade.  As I write this it sounds like it would be an depressing book, and although it definitely had those moments, it is also a story of redemption and love.  I highly recommend it.  And on a lighter note, it gave me a reason to seek out Indian food and exotic ingredients.  I did a library search for "Indian cook books," and came up with Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet by Padma Lakshmi.  It is a beautiful book with great recipes and pictures.  The problem is that although the author is Indian, her recipes were a collection from food inspirations she had gained throughout her world travels.  

I did prepare a appetizer she suggested (next Tuesday's food post), but ended up using a Indian chicken breast recipe that I had in my files from my sister years ago that I knew was good.  As any good blogger would do, my next step was to check out some authentic Indian food blogs, of which there are many.  The site I ended up spending some time with, and downloading recipes from including the salad I prepared was Sailu's Kitchen . 

The blogging process is still a learning experience for us.  We've had requests for our recipes to be downloadable through a link, so I am trying to figure out how to do that.  If the links below work for Monday night's recipes then I have figured it out.  If not, please continue to be patient with us as we continue to improve our blog!

click here for Mango Cucumber Salad recipe

Part of the book club gang having pre-dinner snacks outside prior to going inside for dinner.
A trip with my husband to the ethnic food market resulted in lots of interesting Indian snacks.
And the table is set for the gang -- you can see that my style is minimalistic compaered to Heather's!

After writing this post I see how much influence our book club selections have had on our actions.  Maybe choosing Clutter Busting would have been a good call...


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  3. Hi Ann, Thanks for mentioning my book, Clutter Busting. Also, thanks for promoting books in general! Take care,