Saturday, December 28, 2013

Don't Kill the Birthday Girl!

For December we read Don't Kill the Birthday GirlTales from an Allergic Life by Sandra Beasley, a memoir about growing up with severe food allergies and how her family coped (and sometimes didn't), and how hard it can be to live in a world where food is dangerous and many people don't take allergies seriously.

It wasn't a particularly foodie book, but it certainly made those of us present very grateful for our lack of food allergies.  It is easy to take for granted the freedom to eat pretty much whatever you like, and this book certainly makes you appreciate that.

Much of our discussion focused around how people respond to food allergies.  Many people are perceived as being irrational to the point of being irritating or troublemakers, when from their perspective they are just trying to save the lives of their children.  This was reflected in the group itself.  One member was maddened by her sister-in-law's insistence on searching other people's cupboards for peanut containing products. Another had nearly lost a nephew numerous times to his nut allergy, and had witness firsthand unrelenting cruel responses from parents who went so far as to bully his mother on Facebook about her efforts to keep her child safe.  This is a very sensitive issue that seems to get more complicated all the time.  Hopefully science will make strides in resolving it soon!

For dinner we had a light supper, followed by a pretty extravagant (and high allergen) cookie exchange. 

Dawn made gumbo and Lemon Pecan Shortbread cookies.

Madeline brought gingerbread boys and girls, sugar cookies with purple sprinkles and pizzelle

Katie W. brought prosciutto wrapped asparagus and (maybe peanut butter cookies?)

Heather M. brought Double Chocolate Mint cookies (I think).

Julie brought fried rice and sugar cookies, decorated by her kiddos!

Rachel brought double ginger cookies.

And for the life of me I can't remember who brought these cookies.  Help!

Hoping all of you had a wonderful holiday season and your cookies found good homes!
Our next group meeting is Wednesday January 8, 2014 when we will be discussing The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore.  There might be a few copies still at the Mountlake Terrace Library, or it is available

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Friday, November 15, 2013


This month we shared Patricia Reilly Giff's Gingersnap, a kids' historical fiction that took place during World War Two.  Most of the food was either very simple soups (which Madeline did a lovely job replicating both a basic meat one and a fruit dessert one), or baked goods made with rationed supplies.  Karen's mock apple pie made with Ritz crackers captured this perfectly!  And Katie S. brought a snack right out of the dogs and (homemade) orange soda!

It was refreshing to do a quick read, and this was a book none of us had read before, so that was nice too.  Our first impressions of the book were that it was very likable, sweet, feel good, a bit sad (but not a weeper) and very imaginative.

It was the details that really endeared the book too us, such as the almost-authentic-Ming vase, that suffered such tragic consequences.  Other heartwarming bits:  Jayna thinking it was perfectly reasonable to travel with a turtle; and how Elise and her bestie were connected by the book that fell on the ground, and became part of Jayna's heritage.

 What we were less impressed by was though Jayna was no doubt forced to mature some in her years in foster care, there were times she sounded much too adult in her narration.  And we weren't too wild about the ghost/voice...too undefined, unresolved, and not at all scary ;)

As usual, our potluck was a huge success!


Barbara W. - brownies and wine


Dawn – leftover-to be split pea soup, gingersnaps

Heather McN – Mashed potatoes and pumpkin apple pie 


  Julie D. – My Mother In Law's Salad = greens, endive and brussel spout salad and rolls 


 Karen T. – mock apple pie (with ritz crackers!) 

Katie S. –  homemade orange soda and hotdogs and mustard 


Katie W. - Baked Potato Soup w/ bacon, sour cream, and cheddar cheese 

Laura H. –  Lentil soup 

Madeline -  Mini Meatloafs and stone soup, stone girls, and Welcome Home Soup 


Sonja K-G – Pumpkin Dump Cake + breadsticks

Also attending, two newbies:  Katie's cousin Emily, and Heather's roommate Nikita. month we will be reading  "Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life" by Sandra Beasley, and doing a holiday cookie exchange!  There are two copies of the book being held behind the Mountlake Terrace Library desk for bookgroup members.  Looks to be a quick read, so perfect for the busy holiday season!

We will be meeting at 6:30 on Wednesday December 11, 2013.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Night Circus

This month we read the beautiful and mysterious book The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  Overall it was enjoyed, but we felt it was not without some issues.

Overall we found the book to be intriguing, though some expected it to get boring.  But the descriptions were all so fun and fabulous, and the characters full of life, that it made for a fun, fanciful romantic gothic read.  On the downside, some felt it was too jumpy in the beginning, and didn't have enough conflict to be compelling.  The writing reflected that of a first author who has room for improvement.  A particular peeve was using some words way too often, such as "elegant" which was used to the point of exhaustion.  But overall a fun page turner.

    Madeline provided us with ambiance that matched the book!
    Our favorite parts:

    • Circus descriptions.
    • Clock delivery and clock.
    • The magic...her actual magic.
    • Marco returning to his original face.
    • The people who woke to reality and then fell asleep again.
    • Community of red scarf.
    • Dare in the tree...return to childhood.

    What made us drool?  Puff pastries. Oysters. Chocolate mice. Hot chocolate.

    Unfortunately, we didn't make any of those food items, but did have a wondrous feast anyways.

     Barbara W. - Black and White Pizza

    Dawn – salad

    Julie D. – chicken fried rice

    Madeline - Beef with Broccoli in the crock pot

    Rachel R. - bread and cheese and pork rillettes from the wonderful The Calf & Kid in Seattle

    Marsha - black sticky rice

     Laura H. – Carmel Apples and fried chicken

     Lynn - Angel Food cake

     Katie W. - Crème Brulee

    Next month we will be reading Patricia Reilly Giff's Gingersnap, a kids' historical fiction.  There will be lots of  soup, and of course gingersnaps! 

    We will be meeting at 6:30 on Wednesday November 13, 2013.

    Don't forget, we are on Facebook, too!  Join us here:

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013

    Yes Chef

    This month we discussed Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson.

    Overall, this book was a big hit with the group.  The book didn't have any recipes, but he has great cookbooks (available from the library) and a ton of recipes available online.

    Those who listened to the audiobook were particularly taken with his voice.  Everyone thought he was a great guy and one member admitted that she is "a little bit in love with him".

    Many of us enjoyed the randomness of his story, and how it took the reader all over the world.  But some of the favorite stories were just the little life stories, such as how Marcus and Mats met, and how Marcus's mom would dj for their disco parties (with only girl guests).   People also loved how the Blatte soccer teams found each other.  It is inspiring that despite from being from all over the place and different races, soccer brought them together.  Which made it all the more devastating when he was cut from the team without even a warning from his coach.  How satisfying to later learn he was a year younger than they realized, and not just small for his age!

    Ok.  He's a hottie.
    The food descriptions were just amazing, making the book really heard to read when hungry...left us salivating.   It was sad that his African restaurant didn't work out, especially due to untrustworthy backers, and through no fault of the food.

    We also loved how he explored NYC by bike and skates.  His willingness to see the genuine and learn about various people's and cuisines is inspiring. And his unique perspective on race made was fascinating.

    We were hugely frustrated that he had to buy his own name back from his partner, after working so hard to establish himself.

    Favorite quote:    The part of me that says "I can" is always a just a little bit louder than the part of me that say "I can't".

    Katie W. - Chipotle Chicken Skewers

    Madeline - homemade smoked mackerel

    Katie S. - lamb stew with sauteed morning glory

    Dawn - Massaged Kale Salad - off his website - because we never have enough green!

    Heather- spiced quinoa, apple cake #1 and mojitos - "New American Table"

    Laura H. - apple cake #2

    Next month (October 9th) we will be discussing the not-particularly-foodie book
    The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  There are some yummy food descriptions, and lots of room for creativity! 

    Katie S. found this great link with a list of all the food in the book to get you started.