Book Group

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Our book group has been meeting for nearly eighteen years.  I remember precisely how long we’ve known each other because I was on maternity leave with my oldest daughter at the time.  When she was a month old I realized I wanted more adult company.  I found a book club that was just getting started, and these wonderful women have become some of my best friends.  (For a picture of our group, and a description of the fund-raising some of them started, see here.) 

I’m hosting our book group tomorrow night, and I started thinking about the best books we’ve read together.  Over those years we’ve read a lot of books, and it would be impossible to list all the ones I’ve loved.  But here are three that came to mind first when I started thinking about my favourites:

The Sparrow – the best part of being in a book group is reading something you never would have picked up on your own.  I hadn’t even heard of this book, and if I had, I wouldn’t have read it anyhow since it’s classified as science fiction.  It’s so much more than that, with a great story that explores ethics and theology.  All these years later, I can’t get it out of my mind.

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams – this is one of the best Canadian books I’ve ever read. It combines fact and fiction in telling the story of the entrance of Canada’s tenth province into Confederation.  I was lucky enough to meet its author, Wayne Johnston, last year, and it was an honour to tell him how much I loved this book.

Wintergirls – this young adult book is an astonishingly powerful story about a teenager with an eating disorder.  I found myself holding my breath as I sped through the pages.  Half of me wanted to slow down, to admire the excellent writing, but the other half was desperate to know what happened.  Let’s just say we ate dinner late that night.



Almost as important as the books is the food at our meetings. 

I tried a couple of dip recipes earlier this week.  Often I just buy vegetable dips, but as the author of a cooking blog, I thought the least I could do was whip up a couple of them. 

The first is a white bean and roasted garlic dip.  It’s a great basic dip, with a mild flavour and a smooth texture.  This is the kind of dip we all need in our repertoires.

And then there’s the peanut dipping sauce.  I would eat it with a spoon.  I would eat it with a trowel.  I would make a mega-batch so I could dive into a pool of it.  This stuff is ambrosia.  And if ambrosia grants immortality, then I am living forever.

So I’ll be making both of these dips tomorrow, in addition to a few other treats, to serve while we chat.  And if you’re reading this and you’re in my book group … try to act surprised.

White Bean and Roasted Garlic Dip
(adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger)

One 15.5 ounce can white beans, preferably low-sodium, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (first amount) 
1 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (second amount)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and white pepper, to taste

To roast garlic, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the top third of the garlic head off so the tops of the cloves are exposed.  Place garlic head, unpeeled, in a small ovenproof dish and drizzle with 1 Tbsp oil.  Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Let cool.  Set aside 1 Tbsp roasted garlic for this recipe and mash it.  Reserve the rest for another use.

In a food processor, combine the beans, roasted garlic, oil and lemon juice, and process until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.  This will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.  Serve with your favourite vegetables for dipping.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
(adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger)

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (she suggests using natural peanut butter)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp)

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.  It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

47 comments:

Lori said...

That is so great to be a part of a group that has met that long! These look like some tasty dips. I'm definitely going to try that peanut dipping sauce.

Becki's Whole Life said...

Wow - that is one long running book club. You must all have a grea time with it. Both dips sound wonderful - and healthy. I love the bean dip with the roasted garlic.

Jemi Fraser said...

How cool that you've been meeting that long! I've never been part of a book club - sounds like fun :)

Valerie said...

There's a lot of pressure that comes with having a food blog...everyone expects something fantastic to nosh on when they visit. :D

(You sold me on the peanut dipping sauce!)

Thank you for the book recommendations, I'm always on the lookout for new reads!

Belinda said...

Ooo - great recommendations!! I'm going to pass it along! Loving this dip!!

From the Kitchen said...

Thanks for two good recipes and the book suggestions. My book group, The Muses, meets this week. We are discussing "I Am Madam X".

Best,
Bonnie

Gloria said...

Nice recommendations and love your recipe!

Medeia Sharif said...

I've heard of Wintergirls, but I'll look up the other books.

I enjoy a good dip. I love white beans.

Carol said...

Nice recommendations, they sound like good reads! The dips look delicious. I'd love to try the peanut dip, nice change, a little different. My book club meets my house next month, I'll try this, thanks.

Cindy said...

I just joined a book group, I love the ladies and have really enjoyed the books.
We are also in love with peanut sauce--this looks like a fun recipe.
Nothing better than friends you have had for years. I go to lunch with two gals that were my college roommates 36 years ago. We laugh and sometimes cry--they are the best friends.

bakewithjill.com said...

These both sound great. I love peanut sauce, but hadn't thought of using it as a dip. Book club sounds great too!

Rita said...

IT seems since i started blogging I quit reading books doe some reason and lately I have been getting in the mood to read. now.I really want to get The Colony of Unrequited Dreams.
great recipes for you book club.
Rita

Kittie Howard said...

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams - I immediately jotted this title down. I'm a fanatic when it comes to historical books. And what a great way to learn more about Canada. I've tucked those delicious recipes away for a bit, once I lose these five pounds!

Bonnie said...

Beth, I read "The Sparrow" a while back and so enjoyed it. It was definitely a book to make one think. My book group is something I always look forward to. I will not be hosting again until next year, but will definitely be trying the dips. Enjoy your group this week. Bonnie

Claudia said...

First - I must read that book. I am trying to keep abreast of teen lit and am always looking for suggestions. And the dips - I can consume more than in inordinate amount of white bean dip - so satisfying. And a peanut dip lasts about 5 minutes in this house.

Claire Davis said...

That's so special that you've all stayed friends for so long. That dipping sauce looks amazing!

Mary said...

What a blessing to have a group of friends like that. Thanks for the book suggestions!! I am going to check them out. Thanks again!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I really need to remember not to read your post just before dinner. Especially on the days when my husband is making dinner. It's always takes him longer than it takes me to make it. Now I'm starving looking at these pictures. ;)

The only book on your list that I've read is Winter Girls. I loved the writing.

Ruth said...

"I would eat it with a trowel." HAHAHAHA!

Raina said...

I would really like to join a book club. I love to read and would enjoy reading and discussing books with others. Your dips look delicious. If I was there at the book club meeting, I would make sure I sat really close to the dips so I could make sure they were within my reach all night:)

Joanne said...

I need some kind of motivation to get me reading again, and maybe a book club is IT. Plus it'll give me an excuse to make that peanut dip and not eat the whole batch myself!

Sissi said...

Both dips sound fabulous. I would really hesitate if I had to choose...
Thanks for the books recommendations.

Kitchen Riffs said...

Ambrosia is a good word, and not one I see that often these days. Both dips look terrific. The bean dip + good bread + a salad could be dinner. And the peanut dipping sauce? Well, I could never resist ambrosia! Good stuff - thanks.

profiterolesandponytails said...

These dips/sauces both sound great. I could have used them for the tapas night that I just posted about! I'll also have to follow up on the books that you've recommended, as I'm in need of my next book.

grace said...

mmm, nice dip! i hope someone in your group is keeping track of how many books you've read--18 years is a long time to keep with it!

Beth said...

Grace, we do have an up-to-date list with all of our books read. It's probably due to the fact that we have three librarians in our group!

sweetandcrumby.com said...

I have been wanting to buy, "The Food You Crave" and this just supports that. These dips look and sound addicting, especially the "ambrosia" one. I adore my book club and you are definitely right that it has inspired me to read books I never would have.

comfortablydomestic.com said...

Eighteen years in the same book group is amazing! That peanut dip looks fantastic! I would go for a swim in that, too.

beti said...

any reunion is mostly about food, it is very important and you made a delicious dip and a wonderful looking sauce

Yummy said...

I think a book group would be a fun idea. I just can't seem to find the right one that doesn't irritate me! Ha! Great looking dip!

Elaine said...

How remarkable that your book club has met for so long. The books you listed sound good - I'll have to check them out.

nancy at good food matters said...

Hi Beth, Three years ago I joined a bookclub that has been ongoing for 20 years. I enjoy it for the diversity of books that I might not otherwise read--and food is central to our group too. Each month, one person presents the book and facilitates the discussion, and one person hosts the dinner. It is a lot of fun.

Love your description of the peanut dip!

purecomplex.com said...

Let me tell you.. that garlic dip is calling me right about now lol. I would definitely enjoy the book meeting with food like this. Wonderful

Asmita said...

That is amazing that your book club has been meeting for so long. The dip looks and sounds delicious!

Michelle said...

What a lovely bunch if friends you must have in your book club.
Yummo... I love a good dip.

gobakeyourself said...

I love that your book group is so tight and dedicated :D
And this dip is stunning (the colour goes very well with carrot sticks too :)

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I've never been in a book club, but my daughter and I read a lot of the same books and have discussions.

I thought Wintergirls was wonderful too. I love almost everything Anderson writes.

Barbara said...

Book groups are wonderful, Beth. And for the reasons you stated....we read books we'd never have picked up on our own. And then you have the conversations. Ideas are mentioned and delved into that you'd not considered.
Oddly, I've not read any of the books you mentioned and I've been in a book group for years as well.
We always do lunches...salads mostly. But I love the dip recipes.

Cucina49 said...

Those dips look wonderful! My book group has only been around for a few years, and I'm not always available to go, but I treasure some of the discussions we've had. Also, I've read Wintergirls--truly a sad and startling book.

Thyme (Sarah) said...

How fortunate you are to be a member of a book club that has so much history behind it. I just love that and ENVY that! I really should get into a book club here. I used to belong to one in NY and we even went on retreats in the fall. It was so wonderful.

Julie said...

How wonderful you've been in the same book group all these years. What great friends you've made!

C&C Cakery said...

The Colony of Unrequited Dreams is one of my favourite Canadiana books out there (of course, I'm history teacher, so it's understandable).

Love the white bean dip - always looking for a vegan treat to have with my veggies that has a bit of extra protein for me. Thanks darling!

lisa is cooking said...

I was in a book club years ago, and I miss it! It's great to be introduced to books I wouldn't have chosen. And, the discussions of the books over food was always fun too. The peanut sauce sounds like a must try!

Caryn Caldwell said...

I loved Wintergirls, too! I haven't read the other two, though. Maybe I'll have to give them a try.

As for those recipes/photos, they look DELICIOUS. I am now starving!

kristen-frugalanticsrecipes-com said...

Book groups are so much fun. I haven't been in one in years, but I continue to read as voraciously as time allows.

Those dips both sound so good. I love savory dips with vegetables!

Simply Life said...

great list! I just started going to my first "book club" about a year ago- I do hope we stay in touch as long as your group has!

Lynne said...

I think it's wonderful that you have been in a book club group for so long! What a treat to have friends to discuss your books with. The dips look delicious!

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