A Dinner Fit for a Hobbit (and Some Recipes Too)

Another Book Club dinner party is in the books, and this year’s event was just as lovely as the previous year.

Beautiful decor…

Fresh Salad…

Delicious soup…

Decadent dessert…

Oh, and conversation about The Hobbit as well…

While this book goes down as a favorite for some of us, others were not fans of the fantasy fiction genre or any of Tolkien’s works. However, we all could agree that the dramatized version available on Audible got a big thumbs down for leaving out narration, the dialog being too hard to follow and just generally not doing justice to the story.

For those of us that liked the book, we appreciated Bilbo as the reluctant hero and enjoyed following his very unhobbitlike adventures. Several of us are excited to one day read this book to our own kids as they start looking for adventures of their own.

And now, what you all have been waiting for…the recipes!

Corn Potato Poblano Soup
Makes about 2 quarts
6 ears organic corn, kernels shaved and reserved, cobs cut in half for stock following
8 c. water
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. sea salt

  1. In a medium saucepan combine corn cobs, water, oregano and salt. Simmer 30 minutes.

2 poblano peppers
3 yellow onions, small dice
4 ribs celery, small dice
4 yukon gold potatoes, medium dice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
pinch of cayenne
1 c. white wine
red bell pepper coulis or cilantro pesto

  1. Using tongs, roast poblano peppers directly over a medium high flame. The skin of the peppers should be blistered and black all over. Put roasted peppers into a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap.
  2. In a large stock pot combine corn kernels, onions, celery, olive oil and remaining salt. Cook medium high until vegetables color.
  3. Add white wine and cook a few minutes more.
  4. Add potatoes, and strain corn stock into the main pot.
  5. Peel seed and chop poblanos, and add to soup. Simmer until potatoes are tender and flavors combine.
  6. Garnish with red bell pepper coulis or cilantro pesto.

Roast Pumpkin Soup
Makes about 5 cups
4 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 kg peeled deseeded pumpkin (you will need about 1.5 kg or pumpkin to yield the 1 kg of peeled, deseeded pumpkin needed for this recipe)
1 tablespoon oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Cream, for serving
Ground nutmeg, for serving

Preheat oven to 375º.
Chop pumpkin into even-sized pieces (larger pieces will require a longer roasting time). Place pumpkin and unpeeled garlic cloves in a baking tray/dish, drizzle with three teaspoons of the oil and toss to coat with oil.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the garlic so that it doesn’t overcook. Continue baking pumpkin until tender and cooked through. Keep an eye on the pumpkin to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Heat remaining teaspoon of oil in large (at least 3 quart capacity) saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, nutmeg, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for one minute.

Add pumpkin and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until the onion is soft and stock has reduced, about 20 minutes. The more the stock reduces, the thicker the soup will be.

Peel roasted garlic and add to saucepan. Allow the soup to cool for about half an hour before pureeing in batches in a blender.

Serve the soup hot. Top with a drizzle of cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg, if desired.

Store soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer.

Chocolate Mousse
The recipe for the chocolate mousse can be found here at Allrecipes.com.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
Jodi shared her pumpkin spice latte recipe last year, and we put it to use for this dinner party, too. Here is the recipe.

Hope you can join us for October meeting where we will discuss Agatha Christie’s The Murder at the Vicarage (the first Miss Marple mystery). See you October 13 at 7 p.m. at Paradise Café and Bakery at Hamilton Town Center!

A Girl Named Zippy: Recap

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for our discussion of
“A Girl Named Zippy!!”
(not pictured: me. the photographer. :D)
Zippy was full of laughs, so we enjoyed reading some of our favorite bits and pieces aloud. If you didn’t get a chance to read it this month, stash it away for when you need to relax and have a good laugh.
DSC_7367photo 2
It was a great night, so we sat outside enjoying the cool breeze and the waning sunshine. Have you ever been more excited for fall?
I sure hope you’re excited because next month is our book club dinner party, and we’re hoping to kick off the fall book reading season with a soup and salad dinner on September 8th. Our book this month is The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. RSVPing is important for the dinner party, so go ahead and do so on the Facebook event. (If you don’t have Facebook, leave a comment or e-mail Sarah.) Other than the Christmas party, this is our favorite event of the year, so I can’t wait to see you there!

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

Now, granted I haven’t seen the movie Gone With The Wind. But… after hearing the general consensus of the group, I won’t.
The book, on the other hand, was highly rated by our gathering of 10 ladies. Most of us gave it an 8-9.5! I’d love to hear how you’d rate this book on a scale of 1-10 if you were unable to join us. Leave us a comment!

Since the mercury wasn’t dropping, we moved our summer picnic indoors.
And you women sure do know how to make a salad! Excellent food, ladies- excellent!
This summer is a rare one for me… all three of my sisters are local and were able to join us! Often the summers have found us on multiple continents!
Usually our discussions are peppered with discussion of the book that we read and the stories of our life.
This epic novel offered plenty of topics to discuss. I hope next time you will be able to join us as we chat great literature.
Next time we’ll meet August 11th at 7:00pm at Paradise Bakery and Cafe.
A Girl Named Zippy
This may not seem like “great literature” at first glance, but like they always say don’t judge it by it’s cover. This is a funny lady who grew up very near us and gives quite the comical view of small town life from the eyes of a tom-boy third grader. A quick read and not one to skip!
Remember to think of your book-loving friends! August is Bring A Friend month!
See you in two weeks,
Happy Reading!

A Walk Down Memory Lane.

A week ago we met to discuss Peter Pan, our children’s literature choice for the year. And as we took our minds on a merry trip down memory lane, we took ourselves back to our summer meeting place: Paradise 🙂

See! summer = blended coffee beverages. yum!


Our discussion flowed through topics like: what do we really think of Peter? What might the book have to say about a parent’s role in growing imaginative children? Would you want a dog for a nanny? as well as various comparisons between the book and film adaptations.


One of our favorite aspects of the book was ridiculousness that was peppered amongst the pirate fights and pert pixies.
Do you know what else is favorite? 1/2 price cookies before closing time!

Join us for our next meeting! We’re giving you 2 months to tackle this puppy: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It’s a big-un. So, we’re giving you TWO months to read it. So, no excuses? I don’t remember where we’re meeting or when. So just start reading the book, and we’ll fill you in on that later. 🙂

Reading FOR and WITH a Purpose

Recap of our April meeting:
Three Cups of Tea

Where to even begin?

How do I put an experience into words? How do I give it the proper credits their due.

If you would have asked me 5 or 10 years ago I never ever would have guessed I would start a book club. I never could have imagined how much I would enjoy reading good books and discussing them with friends… over TEA!

I would have called you crazy.

Although my cool Aunt Lois always drank tea… I didn’t think that the transparent-watery drink was for me. (Now I’ve learned the joy of a splash of raw milk and honey! My tea is not transparent! And tea is not like water.)

Saturday was a perfect clash of so many favorites coming together!

Our discussion of Three Cups of Tea lasted longer than normal but we didn’t notice. Each with our own pot of tea, we were set to enjoy the cloudy day sitting in the cafe. (Mine was a marvelous pot of carmel almond black tea- sweetened and with milk, of course!)

Three Cups of Tea

An amazing feat done by the inspiration of one man.

A wrong turn. A new road for his life.

New schools where there were none.

Hope for the coming generations.

A creative solution for a major issue.

Teaching peace through simple education.

Our discussion questions were a little like essay questions, BUT they provided excellent launching points for our discussion.

One question spurred on part of our conversation…

Greg believes education is the key solution to some very complicated problems. What other problems do you think are in need of some creative solutions?

We agreed most problems, especially the big and complicated ones, should be solved creatively, not by just throwing money at them. The small, tedious steps Greg needed to take to build each school… like how he had to build a bridge to even get to the building site of his first school. Those small, very necessary, steps will probably help really solve problems not just patch them.

We also discussed the following two big problems and the inspired people coming up with creative solutions.

Education in America. If you’re not familiar with Ted Talks you should surf on over there and take a gander. One of many with inspired ideas, Salman Khan is using video to “reinvent education.” You may think that sounds like the opposite direction we need to go. Kids need a human to teach them, talk to them, answer specific questions, right? Well, before you make any judgments see if these short 20 minutes don’t change your mind.

Food. Specifically processed food… I believe another complicated problem in America. We talked about Jamie Oliver and his show Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. His current season is focused on promoting healthy eating habits in public schools. Referring to last month’s book, I think food in America is near a tipping point. (Do you agree??) Oliver is teaching about REAL food… you know, the kind that grows in the ground and on trees… people are re-learning how to cook and bake. With actual food.

I’ll stop there before I get higher on my food soap box 🙂 and get back to our book.

We enjoyed reading a different perspective from the middle east. He shared about where he was on 9/11. And what that meant for an American in the Middle East at that time. We enjoyed the details. I really got a good mental picture of the many locations he traveled and the sparse life he lived while trying to collect enough money for schools and airfare. Personally, I would have loved to hear more from his wife’s point of view… but maybe that will be a book in itself some day.

And we discussed much more.

I know many were busy this month, but I wish you could have made it! I encourage you to come next month, May 12th.

Rachel won the door prize… a copy of next month’s secret reveal book…

Peter Pan by J. M Barrie

I’m sure you’re familiar with the Disney version of this classic, but have you ever read the original? (Be sure you’re copy isn’t an abridged version… you’ll be missing out! It’s a quick read, you don’t need to get the short version anyway!)

A little fairy dust never hurt anyone. I’m sure you’ll enjoy this book. And I know this children’s book will prove good conversation for our adult book club.

See you in a few weeks!

Discussing the Tipping Point

It was a beautiful evening, and time for our monthly book club excursion. It was also time to commemorate St. Patrick, and the celebrations were in full force in the tent outside the Irish pub at Hamilton Town Center. Once we finally found parking spots, I don’t think any of us minded the extra walk to Borders; the weather was especially nice.

Despite not joining in the nearby St. Patrick’s Day merrymaking, we still sported some festive green!

Armed with tea, coffee and our answers to the pre-meeting Mad Lib Sarah posted, we launched into our discussion of The Tipping Point. Certain parts of the book resonated with each of us more than others, but I think we all agreed that it was fascinating and could see points that Malcolm Gladwell brought up at work in the world around us. Here are a few highlights of what came up in our discussion:

  • We could identify some traits in us of connectors, mavens or salesmen, but none of us would strongly identify ourselves as one. However we all  could think of people who fit these roles. A couple of us, myself included, admitted that we failed the phonebook test miserably — we’re definitely not connectors! 
  • Each of us had experience with Sesame Street and Blues Clues and could see the stickiness factor of their messages at work. The way stickiness can be built in somewhat creeped a few of us out.
  • We were rather amazed at how powerful the power of context can really be. Cleaning up graffiti and prosecuting fare-beaters in the subway can start a reversal of crime in New York City. People will be prone to not help someone because they think someone else will. A harmful or lethal act will seem OK because the people doing it seem heroic and that can give someone else “permission.”
  • Several of us were so intrigued by this book that we have or are planning to read some of Gladwell’s other works.
At one point during our discussion, a group of St. Patrick’s Day revelers who were meeting at Borders before a concert in the tent asked us what book we were discussing. When they found out it was the The Tipping Point, they pointed to one of the guys in the group and said, “That is his FAVORITE book!” I think the fact that the conversation died out from there proved that none of us are strong “connectors,” I think a connecter would have been all over that, Not even a weak connection was to be had there! 🙂
If you couldn’t join us for our March meeting, I hope you can make it out for our April discussion of Three Cups of Tea. We’ll be meeting at Tea’s Me, so that alone will make it an outing you won’t want to miss. Hope to see you on Saturday, April 16!

The Chosen: A Recap

It’s official. Chaim Potok is definitely one of our favorite authors. He is an excellent storyteller! Did you read My Name is Asher Lev with us? We liked that one, too, and it was hard for us to decide which one of these books we liked best.

In short, The Chosen is the story of two boys, Reuven and Danny, who meet under hostile circumstances, live in different circles, and yet become very good friends. The story follows them through their growing up years, the end of World War II, and the death of president Roosevelt. Like My Name is Asher Lev, there is a sequel called The Promise which follows Reuven through the next phase of his life.

I marked up my book with quotes to share during our discussion:

Take a look at this awesome beverage: (a perk to meeting at Borders!)


Another perk of Borders? Comfy chairs!:


Some highlights of the story were the baseball game at the beginning, the themes of sight and silence that Potok worked in seamlessly, and the interesting characters Reuven meets during his time in the hospital. What about you? Did you read the book? What were your favorite parts?Can I also say that I am SO excited about our next book? The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell- another excellent storyteller. We’ll be meeting on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17th) at 7pm at Borders. See you there!


“He told me once he wishes everyone could talk in silence.” The Chosen, Chapter 3

So you haven’t been to book club in awhile… or ever… yet… But
you’re thinking of joining us this book-club-Thursday! Well, here is a
glimpse of what you can expect: No we don’t “Talk in silence” 🙂

Once upon a time, on Thursdays, we meet and discuss our current read.
Simple. Read the book, bring it, if you’d like, come and enjoy the
company of others who share the joy of reading.

This time of year you’ll find us at Borders. What better place to
meet than at a book store…well, maybe a library…but this way we can
all enjoy a hot beverage from the cafe. And not have to whisper.

We usually visit a bit before we start. Often, we’ll do some simple
introductions if necessary.

Then we jump in.

This week well be discussing The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Possible
topics for discussion might be:

Silence: Was this a good thing?
Vision and perception: What happen to these boys eyes as they grew?
Both their physical sight and their view of life and the world around
The title: Why is this book titled The Chosen?
Females: Where are the women in this story?
Friendship: These friends were different in so many ways but were such
good friends, what made that work?

We often get out our TableTopics book club discussion cards at the end also.

And then we part, going our separate ways and live happily ever after to start the story over!

The Chosen
Thursday February 17th
Borders @ Hamilton Town Center

book club Thursday

Trying to discuss The Year of Living Biblically in one short evening might be large undertaking, but we sure enjoyed it!

I always look forward to book club Thursday’s, even when the turn-out is small. Three of us were in attendance while the snow fell quietly outside.

Jacobs learned a great deal about the Bible through his crash-course in reading it and then following through with this 12 month book project. He says this about his background with the Bible: “I grew up in an extremely secular home in New York City. I am officially Jewish, but I’m Jewish in he same way The Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant. Which is to say: not very. I attended no Hebrew school, ate no matzoh.”

We all agreed he had a religious experience not a spiritual one. But it seems he definitely enjoyed this more than he expected too. Wearing white clothes, carrying a staff, the works. It seems it was like a game to him, a fun project, not an honest spiritual searching.

The first 8 months or so he follows the teaching from the Old Testament and when he got to the end of that and looked to what the New Testament says, he hit a speed bump. “The emphasis on faith is a key difference between modern Judaism and current evangelical Christianity.”

Did you finish the book? I don’t want to give away the ending. Hope you find time to finish this great read some snowy winter night.

Leave a comment with your favorite strange command that Jacobs practiced or tried out. Some of ours… the stoning scene: hilarious! The handy seat… and why he bought it: classic! Dropping money on the sidewalk!

What’s Next?

February 17th is quickly approaching, have you found a copy of The Chosen yet? Be sure to check the sidebar for a heads up of what books we’ll be reading in the next few months. And never miss a blog post by signing up with Feedburner at the top of the sidebar.

2010 Book Club Christmas Party: A Recap

The fondue was ready…

The table was set..

The atmosphere at Janet’s house was just lovely…

It was December 22, and time for the Book Club Christmas Party!

Complete with our discussion about December’s book – Little Women, a classic game of Telephone Pictionary…

And our “White Elephant” Book Exchange.

We all wrapped a used book we have enjoyed, wrote a three-word description and then did our “white elephant” exchange. We didn’t unwrap our books until everyone was done exchanging, and there were definitely some surprises. Can you guess what these books were from just their three-word descriptions? (The answers are at the bottom of the post.)

  1. Murder, Modern, Motivational
  2. Comedy, Christian, Laugh
  3. Real, Like Lewis, Letters
  4. Happiness, Relationship, God
  5. Oats, Ginger, Cab
  6. Romantic, Spontaneous, Old-Fashioned
  7. Adventure, Non-Fiction, Silly
  8. Grandpa, Goats, Free Spirit
  9. 1800s, Journal Format, Fiction
  10. God, Honesty, Growth
  11. Mystery, Suspenseful, Male Author

We all left with something new to read and a lovely handmade ornament (constructed from the pages of A Christmas Carol).

And what book club event would be complete without a group photo?

The not-so-successful…

and the successful!

I know I had a great time; I hope the rest of you who attended our Christmas Party did too! We hope you can join us in January as we read The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible by A.J. Jacobs!

We’re looking forward to some great reads in 2011!

 1.  The Secret Life of Bees
 2.  Stuff Christians Like
 3.  Lord Foulgrin’s Letters
 4.  The Secret of Happiness
 5.  Black Beauty
 6.  The Bridges of Madison County
 7.  Round Ireland with a Fridge
 8.  Heidi
 9.  Stepping Heavenward
10. Honest to God
11. A Painted House