Monday, March 19, 2012

The Help report

This month's book was The Help by Kathryn Stockett (the movie of which is also now out on dvd). The group was very excited about this book, and put together a wonderful potluck full of Southern comfort foods. 

Our first impressions of the book were:
  • loved it!
  • surprised I laughed so much.
  • Ending was dark, and a little disappointing, but realistic.
We discussed:
  • How cliques and social systems help satisfy the need to belong, but have a darker side also.
  • How we are taught how we are supposed to behave around other people, and what a challenge it is to transcend this.  Cecilia is a great example of someone who didn't know how to behave and was punished for that.
  • What it was like for those of the group who had "help" of some sort growing up.
  • How dysfunctional relationships are at least relationship - today the help is often unseen and has no personal connection.
  • How sad much of the parenting was in the book.  Elizabeth was a particularly depressing weak character in this area.
  • Which characters we liked best (Abaleen brought out the best in kids, full of love, willing to take risks.  Skeeter went to college not to get a husband, but to learn.  Also unafraid to seek out the support she needed).
  • The controversy around the book (which can be further explored at the blog A Critical Review of the novel The Help).
While our discussion was fantastic, the food was even better!:

Sonja K-G - chocolate pie (with REAL chocolate)

Dawn – collard greens (no photo?!)

Karen T. - fried chicken (fried in Crisco!)

Katie W. - caramel cake

Ashley P. - Red Beans and Rice

Vernetta S. - Curried chicken tea sandwiches (as well as curried tofu tea sandwiches.)

Julie D. - spicy shrimp + grits

Heather McN - macaroni salad, bean salad, and sweet iced tea

Brenna (Heather's daughter)– ambrosia salad

Katie S. – devilled eggs, green beans and strawberry cake 

And I'm sorry to admit, I don't remember who brought these delicious peanut cookies! [It was Laura!  Sorry about that.]

Next month's book is The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan.  There are 6 people waiting for this book right now, but we do have one copy left behind the desk just for the Foodie Book Group (as of now).  You can also order the cd from the library, or try your luck with the ebook or downloadable audiobook.  And if you are really having a tough time getting into the book, there is also a dvd based on it you can watch :)

I will be out of town, so Heather McN will be leading.  Please send me links to recipes you use, so I can put them in the blog.  And if someone could take photos of the food, that would be greatly appreciated!

ps...I also mentioned my favorite foodie book of the moment, Things Cooks Love: Implements, Ingredients, Recipes.  There are 6 copies in the library system (with 2 holds), but you can also get it surprisingly cheap from

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Medium Raw report

This month's book was Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain.   We had a guest from Houston (hi David!) who found us through our Yelp posting!

Our response as a group was pretty mixed.  While there were a few die-hard fans of "Tony" in the group, most of us found the book inconsistent and sometimes annoying.  Many chapters were quite good (especially the one about the man who prepares fish for the fancy fish restaurant), but others were poorly written.

Negative responses:
  • Didn't care.
  • Whines too much.
  • Hypocritical and dishonest feeling.
  • Gratuitous bad language wears after a while.
  • Didn't connect with much of what he was saying, until the end, when he wrote about the terror of debt.
  • Talks too much about drugs.
  • What was the point?
  • Introduced readers to some areas the were not familiar with.
  • Enjoyed digs against television celebrities.
  • Love the bit about dancing with his daughter, and finally growing up (in his 50s!)
  • Liked his suggestion about requiring home ec in schools again.
  • Makes lots of interesting points, just in little bursts.
Food was random, as the book didn't really inspiring easily attainable cooking for the most part.  So we just made what we like.

Vernetta: green salad with a homemade Almond Balsamic Vinaigrette:

Heather McN: french scalloped potatoes with ham

Julie D: saffron rice w/chicken

Dawn: shrimp salad stuffed tomato appetizer

Karen: Deviled eggs and yummy cookies

David from Houston: smoked salmon
Katie W: carrot cake

Laura: Chocolate Mousse

Next month we will be meeting on Monday March 12, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm.  We will be discussing Kathryn Stockett's popular book The Help, which was recently made into a movie.

While this isn't a specifically foodie book, it is a wonderful read with lots of great Southern cooking (and one intentional disaster).  

This book is still in very high demand, so you won't be able to get it through our catalog anytime soon...but we do have a limited number of copies at the Mountlake Terrace Library just for Foodie Book Group members.  Just go to the front desk to pick up your copy today.  There are also some cookbooks on African American and Southern cooking available at the front desk if you need ideas!