Category Archives: Side Dishes

Book Club: Wrecker

My friend Jan (who also happens to be a kick ass runner and triathlete) invited me into her  Book Club when I first moved to Tampa.  It is a perfect fit as the Book Club isn’t too serious – meaning if you don’t finish, or even read, the book – no big deal!

We each host once a year and get to pick the book for that month.  This group has been meeting since 2006, so they’ve read some great books.  Many books that I wanted to read, have already been read.  Check out past Book Club Picks here if you want some book ideas yourself.

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So I went digging around for a book to read, asked for advice on Facebook, and contemplated picking books I’ve already read by my favorite author Margaret Atwood.  In the end, I choose the book Wrecker by Summer Wood as this month’s book.  Since I’m intrigued by sub-cultures and all things flower-power, the description  on  Good Reads caught my eye.

New Mexico author Wood follows Arroyo with this affecting novel about the rearing of a lovable boy named Wrecker (for his destructive tendencies), who carries the scars of being abandoned at age 3 when his penniless, clueless mother, Lisa Fay, went to prison for drugs. It’s early 1969 when Wrecker’s uncle, Len, whose wife is brain damaged from an infection, becomes aware of the heft of his guardianship responsibilities as he cares for Wrecker at the Bow Farm hippie commune on the Lost Coast section of Northern California. To “help him go forward,” the eccentric residents–young, no-nonsense Southern belle Melody; plaid-clad mother-hen Ruthie; and independent, “short and furry” Johnny Appleseed–of this unconventional cloister take Wrecker into their collective arms. Wrecker is confused and troublesome, and over the years often runs away, but eventually comes to appreciate his alternative family. Complications emerge with a hasty adoption, Len’s wife’s pneumonia, Wrecker’s burgeoning adolescence, and his estranged mother’s eagerness to reclaim her teenage son when she’s released from prison after almost 15 years, just as Wrecker might be moving past his need to reunite with her. Wood (who was inspired by her own fostering experiences) succeeds with surefooted prose; a lush, earthy California backdrop; and a sensitive story of nurturing and family.

With descriptive words like  “hippie,”  “commune,” “eccentric,” and “earthy” I was expecting vivid tales of Acid Tests where the youth of America went to “tune in. turn on. and drop out.”  Wrecker wanted to get there, but there were so many characters that weren’t fully developed, it didn’t.  I really had a hard time getting through the book, and if Book Club wasn’t at my house this month, I probably would have put Wrecker down for a more enjoyable tale.  Others, though, seemed to enjoy it, finding a connection through the setting or the theme of abandonment.

Not only does this group enjoy reading, but we also like good food and good drinks!

Here was the spread.  Momma McGee would be proud.

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Fruit Salad

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Harvest Pasta Salad (<- This was some good shit.  Recipe coming soon!)

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The Harvest Pasta Salad was a recipe that was on the back of the pasta box and was vegan if I left out the cheese.  I was a little nervous making a new dish for a crowd before testing it myself, but I went for it. So delicious.  I will post the recipe soon – but for a teaser it had whole wheat penne, tomatoes, strawberries, red onion, spring salad mix, pine nuts and balsamic.  YUM!

Carrots and Hummus

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Grape Guacamole, Salsa, Blue Corn Tortilla Chips and Pita Chips

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Grape Guacamole is always a crowd pleaser – once they get past the “what the hell is this?” point.

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Trail Mix

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Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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Cookie Cake (not-vegan) for a gal who is moving away

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White Sangria. Beer and Wine

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So despite a ‘wrecker’ of a book, at least there was good food and drinks to make up for it.

Please tell me your favorite book so next year when I host I don’t pick another doozie.

Be well,
Carolyn

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Filed under Life, Main Course, Side Dishes

Tabbouleh Salad

I  eat a lot of green things. 

I add spinach to my morning smoothies.  I pile on romaine for the base of salads.  I am in love with avocados.  A tart green apple with some PB is the perfect snack.  Baked zucchini makes an easy side.  Broccoli, kale, edamame, asparagus, green peppers – you name it, I eat it (with the exception of pickles and dill.  I can’t go there).

Tabbouleh sure packs a lot of green power.  DSC00999

Since eating the Salad Sampler from Central Cafe and Organics, I’ve been dreaming about it daily.  It might just be the salad that changed my life.  There was also that salad in Auckland, New Zealand that had bananas on it.  That one also changed my life! 

Not only have I been talking and dreaming about this salad for the past week, I also have been back to have another and have even made tabbouleh twice in the past week to get my fix. 

Hey, it could be a lot worse.  I’d rather say I’m addicted to tabbouleh than a lot of other things. 

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The first go around I used Mollie Katzen’s recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook.  There were a couple things I wasn’t digging on the first go around – mainly my dragon breath from the garlic, too much olive oil, and not enough lemon juice. 

The second go around, I didn’t even look at a recipe, I just threw things together.  You can’t really go wrong here, so be generous on your measurements.  The more the merrier!

Tabbouleh
Serving Size: 6

1 cup bulgur
1.5 cups boiling water
1.5 tsp salt
.25 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp garlic, minced
.5 cup scallions, chopped
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped finely
1 – 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
fresh black pepper, to taste

Pour the boiling water over the bulgur and let sit for 20-30 minutes (most cookbooks recommend soaking the bulgur for 3 hours prior, but who has time for that?)

Add salt, lemon juice, garlic, scallions, parsley, olive oil, tomatoes, cucumber, and black pepper.  Mix thoroughly.  Correct seasoning if necessary. 

Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving (or don’t if you are impatient and hungry like me!).

Enjoy!

Eat well,
Carolyn

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Filed under Main Course, Salads, Side Dishes