A Little Book With Our Dinner & Wine: A New Twist On “The Book Club”

 

My friend, Barb, came up with a great idea for a book club about a year ago.  (Well, actually, I think she got the idea from somewhere or someone else) But, a group of her girlfriends decided it sounded like fun and we’ve been doing it ever since.

I should have a lot more pictures than I do (sorry!), because there have been so many wonderful books and dinners.  Here’s the gist of it:  You read a book that either somehow centers around food or has references to food in it.  Then, whoever the hostess or hostesses are, center the decorating theme and the menu around the book.  Everyone pitches in with sides and desserts and, of course, we always have an ample supply of wine. (Can you even do a book club without wine?) We get together for a great meal, great wine, great company and, of course, we discuss the book.

Our most recent book was called “Out The Summerhill Road” by Jane Roberts Wood.

 

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It’s a story set in Texas and based around a group of girlfriends who have been friends since high school.  Much older now, they gather together weekly to play cards and visit.  (There are murders and other interesting things that happen, but they always revert back to their traditional card game and their friendship throughout the story.)

So our book club hostesses went all out with the game theme and decorated everything with something that pertained to games and cards.  The food was a typical meal of finger foods and soups common with bridge clubs and such.

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They had this beautiful daffodil arrangement on top of a large “card” placemat on the appetizer table.  We each got to take one of the daffodils with us to use as a bookmark for future books. (One of the characters in the book is an avid gardener which is what the daffodils represented.)

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One of the girls brought yummy “bridge mix” to munch on. It was addictive.  Notice the container on the far left…..looks kind of like a domino….hence the game theme.  Get it?

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A fabulous salad.

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Yummy finger sandwiches.

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A sweet tray.

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They got these great giant cards from Party City that could be used as placemats or as a decoration like this.

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Notice the coasters?

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This is a horrible picture of the wonderful table.  My camera battery was dead and I had to use my IPhone.  Sorry for the lack of quality, but hopefully you can see how cute the table was.

In addition to the food shown here we had an incredible chocolate cake and two types of soups.  Both delicious! I brought the leftovers home and fed my family on them for a couple of days.

Here are the soup recipes:

Pablano Chicken Chowder

1/4 c. olive oil
3 large carrots, diced
2 large onions, diced
5 stalks celery,diced
1/8 c. minced garlic
2-3 poblano (pasilla) peppers,seeded and diced (wash hands after handling the peppers)
1 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 T.chicken bouillon granules
3 qts. chicken broth
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, minced
3 c. grilled chicken,diced
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 t. hot sauce
1 c. heavy cream or half n half

Heat oil in stockpot. Add carrots,onions,celery,garlic,poblano peppers,salt, white pepper,cumin,and thyme. Sauté 7-8 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften. Add chicken bouillon, chicken broth and cilantro-cook for 10-12 minutes or until carrots are tender. Add chicken,stirring frequently until heated through.
Shortly before the chowder is done, melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook 3-4 minutes but do not allow to brown. Ladle 1 c. hot liquid from stockpot into skillet, whisking constantly. After first cup is incorporated, add another 2 cups of liquid one at a time. Mix well. Pour mixture into stockpot, whisking to blend. Cook 3-4 minutes stirring frequently until chowder begins to thicken. Remove from heat, Stir in half n half and hot sauce. Enjoy. Soup freezes well.

BROCCOLI CHEESE SOUP


1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 cup onion chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
1/3 cup uncooked rice
2 T. butter
4 cups water
2 cans cream of celery soup
1 can Rotel tomatoes (I used the mild.)
1 1/2 to 2 cups Velveeta cheese, cubed (can use some Velveeta and other cheeses, also)  I used about 3/4 cup Velveeta
because it melts easily and added some cheddar and 5 cheese Italian blend.  I think you could use any kind that is your favorite!
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 Tabasco
salt and pepper to taste (I did not add salt because of the condensed soup.)
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup sherry
1/2 cup sour cream
Mix broccoli, potatoes, rice and water in a soup pot.  Simmer 25-30 minutes.
Sauté’ onion in butter.  Add onion, carrots, celery soup, Rotel tomatoes and cheeses.  Add salt
and pepper, Worcestershire, Tabasco, and chopped parsley.  Heat, but do not boil. 
Add sour cream and sherry at the end of warming.  I have not tried to freeze this,
but don’t see why you couldn’t, even if the sherry and sour cream have
been added, since there is not much dairy involved.

 

These soups were fabulous (as was everything else).  You really should try to make them for your family one day.  As always we had a great time eating, drinking and discussing the book.  Makes for a really fun night – a release from the daily grind.

If you like to read, eat, have wine with friends (and, seriously, who doesn’t?) you should think about forming your own dinner/book club.

Happy Decorating!

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