It is easy to organize a group to read, dine, and have fun
Book clubs and food just go together. If you are sitting around and chatting, you will soon want to be sipping and nibbling.
Books provide lots of opportunities for inspiration and creativity. You might find yourself swept away by looking up recipes for regional cuisine of the book’s setting. Y ou might be exploring dishes popular in a certain era or even whipping up foods mentioned in the book.
At a recent book club gathering, we feasted on pot roast, potatoes and carrots with rich brown gravy. Dinner was followed by a buttery peach cobbler. This was the perfect 1940’s meal to complement our reading of “A Woman’s Place,” by Lynn Austin, about a group of Rosie the Riveters in WWII. Of course, those Rosie’s worked a long factory shift and then made everything from scratch.
This month, I’m dishing up Southern Cobb Salad, featuring chunks of fried chicken, deviled eggs and pickled black-eyed peas as we discuss Safe Haven, by Nickolas Sparks. Set in a small Southern town in South Carolina, it just screams for some good ole’ cooking’.
I made this Southern Cobb Salad, a perfect meal for discussing a book set in the South. I adapted it from a magazine article by taking several short-cuts. It was easily made ahead and served.
Create your own Southern Cobb Salad by topping a mixture of arugula and romaine lettuces with your favorite deviled egg recipe, slices of grilled, oven-fried or rotisserie chicken, red pepper, toasted pecans and black-eyed peas marinated in a balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Pass ranch dressing and serve with rolls or crackers.
If you’d like to organize your own book club and dinner group, it’s really simple:
Plan Ahead: Choose a date for everyone to meet. Invite friends and ask your friends to bring a friend. You can have a book group with any number of people. At least four (4) is good for discussions and 12 make a great number to have one hostess per month without repeats.
Organizational Meeting: A potluck is great for the first meeting. It provides conversation about the food and spreads the work around. At this meeting, decide upon a regular meeting date and any rules your group might have concerning picking books. Select your books. It’s a good idea to pick a coordinator who will keep track of the books and hostesses. Be sure to take the time to introduce each person.
Selecting Books: There are many ways to choose books. Each member of my group brought the names of three books to put in a hat. We drew out 12 book names for the coming year. You can have each person pick one book, you can use suggested reading lists, or book club picks found by using internet searches.
Hosting a Meeting: Prepare discussion questions ahead by searching for them online, by keeping notes as you read the book, or by reading reviews of the books with varying opinions. As long as you have a few questions to toss out, the discuss will flow along. Plan your menu that feels right for the reading material.
Serving the Meal: Because you want to be in on the fun discussions, do not trap yourself in the kitchen. Either set up a buffet line in advance or plan to serve the meal family style. This way you’ll be a part of the book discussion.
Author Lea Schneider, a columnist for What’s Cooking America, is a freelance writer and organizational expert whose organizing ideas have been published in many magazines including Woman’s Day, Better Homes and Gardens Kitchen and Bath Ideas, Family Circle, Parents Magazine, as well as numerous newspapers and websites. She is a member of the Association of Food Journalists.
Getting organized is all about living simpler and making things easier. The bonus is it often leads to saving money. Lea Schneider’s kitchen organizing columns tell you how to organize the many things that relate to kitchens, menus, meals, and special food events.
Check out all of Lea Schneider’s helpful home and kitchen columns at Organizing Kitchens, Pantries, Menus and Meals.