Monday, October 3, 2016

Provence, 1970

For September we read Provence, 1970 : M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste by Luke Barr.

We had mixed feelings about the book. About half the group finished reading it. People who liked it liked that it gave them further glimpses into the lives of foodies we have read about before (especially Julia and her adoring husband). Others felt the translation of the story from journals and letters felt a bit stilted. It was hard not to mirror some of MFK's frustrations, as she (and the book) did not bask in the sensual pleasures of French food as much as other times/books of this type. Overall, we felt this book was interesting enough, but really only hard core foodies could truly enjoy it, and it might have been better if we had read more of MFK's writing before reading this one.
Berets loaned by HMcN

While the responses to the book were less than enthusiastic overall, our feast was above average. 

Fresh from Katie's garden!
Wonderful cheese and pickles by KW
Charcuterie supreme by KW
A last taste of summer, from HMcN
DMR's Costco chicken, carved by KS

Impossibly Easy French apple pie - KS
Zucchini gratin by KS
Darn good French macrons a'la Costco - DMR
Croque Monsieur - Casserole Style - by Bobbi

Madelines - provided by Bobbi?
For October, we are discussing The Bees by Laline Paull. This is a bit of a change of pace from our usual books...a dystopian story that takes place in a hive, from the point of view of a bee!

I expect to see lots of dishes made with honey, and maybe some edible flowers?

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us

This month we read and discussed Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss.

Many of us were worried this would be too dry and boring a read, but it turned out to be quite enthralling. It really made us think about food from a marketing perspective, and how much crap is promoted for people to eat, simply because it will make companies more money. It really is disgusting how calculated this game plan is, and how deceptive. After reading this, it is really hard to look at any processed food without questioning what angle it is being sold from.

Possibly the most impressive part of this book was how many whistle-blowers he dug up...there is so much guilt in this industry! It must have taken a ton of research to write this book, and he did a marvelous job of using the companies' own publications against them.

We mostly brought things made with processed food this month, which was a fun idea, but did not make for a very satisfying meal unfortunately. Individually, there were many tasty things, but collectively it left most of us feeling a little ill.

What did you bring this month?

Barbara - cocoa rice crispy treats and vodka infused gummy bears

Bobbi – lemon yogurt cake

Dawn – Whole Cuts and Mr. Cheese O's

 Heather McN – nachos and fixins

Katie S. – spinach salad with bacon and candied nuts, chicken stuffing casserole and pickle chips and biscuit and gravy chips

Katie W. – double lemon cheesecake bars (Philly cream cheese!)

 Laura – Baby carrots, Coke, chocolate pudding pie


Madeline – cauliflower biscuits (cheese and eggs and non-fat milk)

Sunny S. – strawberry cake and rice pilaf

Next month (by which I mean, this Wednesday, because this blog post is WAY overdue) we are discussing Making Toast: A Family Story by Roger Rosenblatt.

See you (REAL) soon!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus

A Boat, a Whale & a Walrus by Renee Erickson, was another book we were excited to explore due to its Northwest ties and local restaurant glamour.

What was your first impression of this book? Thought it was great…. loved the pictures! I love it. I like the local angle…a real hometown flavor and really liked how each season had key ingredients with bonus recipes. Normally just skim over parts without photos, but this was so good. Very trendy. She's got a real goldmine! Really like the format, with seasons.

What did you like about it? Liked the pantry and supply list. Different kinds of salts. Loved ideas like the pickled lemon, great tips! Liked the backstories, such as the umbrellas. People wander in and become part of her circle, like the art teacher doing the book cover. Gives everyone credit…farms, photographers…so generous! Liked the connections between other authors we have read. Almost like a mini-series or soap opera.

Was there anything you disliked? Too many specialized ingredients. Weirded out by recipe with the lining of the stomach. Too much monochromatic food (such as on p. 68 - herring butter toast).

Which part of the book made you drool? Everything, except sausage wrapped in caul fat.

What did you bring?

Barbara - rice pudding cups.

Dawn – (sad Costco) chicken
Heather McN – pizzas

Jane - Roasted chicken with friend capers and preserved lemon

Katie S. – grilled zucchini salad with pickled cherry tomatoes and cilantro vinaigrette, Homeboy cookies

Laura – Crab Melts and roasted rhubarb with ice cream (not pictured).

Sunny S. – seafood dip sort of crab melty thing, and a raspberry torte

Next month we will be discussing- Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. Not sure if we will be avoiding food with those ingredients, or indulging in them ;) Lots of copies of this book available through local libraries!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Tattoos on the Heart

This month's report is from Katie S:

For February we read “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion” by Father Gregory Boyle. This book was universally loved by all who read it. We were immediately interested in the stories, loved his writing style, and moved by Father Boyle’s mission in life. This book was a rollercoaster of quite tears, laughing out loud, and breaking out in goose bumps.

One think he brought to the forefront for many of us was the little things in life that we all take for granted, and how different our view of the world could be if we had a different situations. One example illustrating this is the story of Father Boyle and two “homies” going to Coco’s restaurant, a first restaurant experience for the homies. It is difficult to contemplate reaching adulthood and never eating at a restaurant that has menus and a waitperson.

Conversely, in the neighborhood and gang culture Father Boyle lives and works within, going to jail, addiction issues, and dying young are taken for granted. Our hearts broke at the story of the teen girl who wanted to get pregnant right away so she could experience being a mother before she died.

While we found it difficult at times that every success story ended in tragedy, we also felt the stories were still successes because of the accomplishments and changes individuals reached before tragedy struck.

We were also impressed with Father Boyle’s unwavering commitment to his life’s work. He is quick to lend a hand, give a ride, or fork over a twenty for any homie who asks. At the same time, he never deviated from his message of non-violence and peaceful resolution.

Only Laura had watched the documentary (available at the library) and she reports that it takes place after the book. I’m looking forward to that continuation of the story.
We all loved his frank and easy writing style, often funny, and the way he incorporated poetry to help illustrate points.

We veered off topic a bit to a broader compassion discussion, and discussed the homelessness problem in Seattle and also our more suburban neighborhoods. Katie’s school has an interesting program for 8th drags, where they spend 3 days living as though homeless. She said it is always interesting to see the personal growth they exhibit, and their different takeaways from the experience.
While they didn’t talk about much in the mouthwatering food category, we still managed to piece together one of our epic and delicious feasts.

Sunny – Taco salad with seasoned ground beef and sour cream

Laura – Chicken tortilla soup, rice, salsa, guacamole, and chips

Bobbi – Chicken enchilada casserole with many layers of goodies

Barbara – Margaritas – a find from Costco and made with agave wine (!?)

Heather – Authentic Mexican desserts from a Mexican grocery – flan, bread pudding, mixed nut bar, pineapple upside down cake

Jane – Dessert nachos - yummy crispy cinnamon sugar chips with diced fruit topping and sweet creamy drizzle

Katie W – Chili verde – pork cubes braised in green sauce (and a personal favorite dish of mine)

Katie S – Tacos al pastor – grilled pork and pineapple tacos

Thanks for the great report and photos Katie!

Next month we are doing Seattle restaurateur Renee Erickson's cookbook A Boat, A Whale, and a Walrus. In the meanwhile, you can sample her food at The Whale Wins, Boat Street Café, The Walrus and the Carpenter, or Barnacle. Or her newest endeavors: Bar Melusine and Bateau!

See you in April!