Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Language Baklava report

This month we discussed  The Language Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber.  Most of us found the book fairly enjoyable, though a few folks couldn't get into it.

What we loved best about it was how it wove together the themes of food and family.  We discussed how much we loved Bud's complicated relationship with his family, which lead to a very animated discussion about our own families, and the food we share.    Foods that have powerful connections to our childhoods included coddled eggs, grandma's egg sandwich, bread pudding, kielbasa, homemade spaghetti sauce, and piroshki.  This also brought up the quote "Everyone's mom makes the best potato salad".

Humor also played a good part in this book, and we talked about how food and humor go together...and that really both of them are things that make family bearable.  Which is part of why we felt Bud's rich uncle was so appalling.  Greedy and miserly, there was no humor (and very little food) to be found in that house.

Some of our other favorite parts of the book were the trip with her grandmother to the Chinese restaurant (though it was painfully mortifying to read) and the chapter where she moved to Jordan as a child...striking in how easy it was for her, but so sad for the young British boy.

We had quite the feast this week.  Overall healthier than our usual fair, until you count the fabulous cookie exchange we had at the end!

Subsistence Tabbouleh


Katie S.  Homecoming Fatteh 
 Heather McN
Cumin Roasted Chicken Legs and Brownies with Almonds

Julie D. 

Bud's Royal Mjeddrah


Katie W. -  Fattoush - Bread Salad

Sonja K-G –  Mona Lisa Cream Puffs

Vernetta S. – "Start the Party " Hummus and vegetables

And for the cookie exchange:
Dawn – Coconut Meringues
Heather McN – Peanut Butter Raisin Cookies (from Creative Cookbook - only 4 ingredients!)
Julie D. – Cake Balls (my favorite!)

Katie W. –  Peanut Blossoms

and Melting Snowmen
Katie S.- Spritz Cookies
Sonja K-G – Chocolate Crumb bars

Next month's book is Midnight at the Dragon CafĂ© by Judy Fong Bates. Here you can find a little information about the book's background.   Here is an author interview. There are currently 4 copies behind the desk at the Mountlake Terrace Library waiting for Foodie Book Group members.  

We will be meeting on Wednesday January 9th at 6:30pm.

Look forward to seeing you then!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Garlic and Sapphires report

This month we discussed Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl.  A few of us had read Comfort Me With Apples a few years back in the early months of the group, and were pleased to revisit Ms. Reichl.  While the food writing was very good (it was fun to hear the stories, then read the related review), it was the disguises that were the real fun of this book.  We loved all the wigs, and the way she developed an individual persona for each costume, and how her kid saying "mommy is a secret food spy" helped her get into it. She took this secret reviewer thing so seriously!  But while it was interesting to see how restaurants treated anonymous diners vs. a known food critic, what was even more interesting was how Ruth was treated so differently depending on if she was dressed up as a blond hottie, or an old lady.  Does that cloak of invisibility await us as old ladies, too?  In the end, Reichl got a bit too much into the costumes, and started acting like a jerk, so we were glad to see her get called out on the carpet for her poor behavior.  On the positive side, she really helps raise awareness of what we eat..."don't settle for crap!"

On the negative side, some of us were very uneasy with her going out on a date in her blond persona.  There were some incredibly rude people in the book (an exaggerated view of New Yorkers?  Most of us have had very pleasant experiences there). And the recipes included in the book didn't really feel that connected with the story...though happily when we made them they came out pretty darn tasty!

Heather brought a delicious roast chicken and some tasty mashed potatoes.

Julie D. made the hash browns, and though they came out yummy, she is convinced Reichl never made them herself.

Katie S. made some very tasty roasted Brussels sprouts.

Vernetta made a tasty kale/chard/spinach salad with pecan dressing (not from the book, but great!)

Dawn made super creamy scalloped potatoes.

Laura made a tasty risotto for the first time.

Karen made the spaghetti carbonara.

Next month's book is The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber.  There are a few extra copies behind the desk at the Mountlake Terrace Library for Foodie Book Group members. We will be meeting on Wednesday December 12, 2012 at 6:30pm at the Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Little Heathens report

For October we read Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.

We all seemed to enjoy this book, though it was unclear how much of it was facts, and how much was just the romantic memories of an elderly lady.  We were very impressed by how much re-purposing of materials was done on the farm...everything seemed to have multiple uses until it was worn down to nothing!  It made some of us feel a bit shameful for how much we have and take for granted, and how easy our lives are by comparison.  The most fascinating parts were things we had never heard of, such as bumblebee honey and using egg whites to remove splinters.

Our spread was quite delish:

Heather McN – Apple Candy Pie with cream, greens with sour cream

Karen T. – carrot/orange marmalade and the Apple Candy Pie with nuts

Katie W. - carrot marmalade & homemade bread

Katie S. –fried chicken, tomatoes, homemade hot sauce

Laura – Homemade marshmallows, coffee, porcupines.

 Julie D. – grits

Dawn – corn on the cob with butter dipper

Next month's book is Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise by Ruth Reichl. There are extra copies behind the desk at the Mountlake Terrace Library for Foodie Book Group members. You may remember, we did one of Ms. Reichl's other books a few years ago about her early life: Comfort Me With Apples. This book takes place much later in her life, when she is living in NYC working as a restaurant critic for the New York Times! Should be able to have some real fun with this one. Maybe everyone should wear wigs? We will be meeting on Wednesday November 14, 2012 at 6:30pm at the Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Charlotte's Web report

Because it is fall, and everyone is caught up in the hustle-bustle of back to, because we all loved the idea of cooking up fair food, we read Charlotte's Web by E.B. White this month.  Most of us had read it as kids, and it has been around so long that it was hard to tell if it was supposed to be nostalgic, or if it just simply captures the eternal charms of farm life.

We talked about who raise farm animals growing up (none of us personally, but many have close relatives who did or do).  We talked about our favorite foods to eat at the fair (corn dogs, scones, grilled onion burgers were high up on the list).   And we talked about this wonderful book and its author.

Overall we were very charmed by what this book had to say about the value of friendship, and what it meant to be a good friend.  We debated if this book made anyone want to be a vegetarian, and if it was meant to do so...and the conclusion was this would have been more effective to that end if Wilbur ended up being slaughtered, but since the reader is not traumatized by the events it isn't as strong a message in that direction.  We talked about how much we loved the language and descriptions in this book (particularly the lengthy details about what was in Wilbur's slops).  We also appreciated the value of being able to "just sit and listen, and be one with the barn."

The connection was made that E.B. White was same White who helped create The Elements of Style.  Wikipedia revealed he also wrote a spoof called Is Sex Necessary? Or, Why You Feel the Way You Do which we found rather amusing.

Carol brought in an amusing vegetarian title her neighbor gave her called Babe's Country Cookbook based on another fictional famous pig.

Alas for poor Babe, we did not stick to a vegetarian menu this meal, but did have a wonderful variety of flavors represented.

Julie made chicken fried steak, and Karen made Pigs in a Blanket:

Heather M. had a crock-pot tragedy, but still made scrumptious bochwurst sausage with sauerkraut.

Laura made delicious homemade pickles, caramel corn and yummy pasta salad.

I brought homegrown tomatoes (grown from plants I got from Prema) and store-bought veggie corn dogs.

Carol made a delicious "blue ribbon" strawberry rhubarb pie.

Katie W. brought perfectly soft homemade gingersnaps and raspberry soda.

And Katie S. made deep-fried fun-sized candy bars!

Next month's book is Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression by Mildred Armstrong Kalish.  There are three copies behind the desk at the Mountlake Terrace Library for Foodie Book Group members.  We will be meeting on Wednesday October 10, 2012 at 6:30pm at the Bethesda Lutheran Church.

Can't wait to see what sorts of food will come out of this book!  Hopefully it was be as tasty as it is resourceful.