Our book club of 22 years met last night for the first time on an online forum. Eight women, long-time friends, who had not been out in society for about five weeks. You can imagine the explosion of conversation! The book of the month, Heartburn by Nora Ephron, got some minor attention before we launched into an animated discussion of the virus, our work, our children, what we’ve been watching on television, when this all might end. I tried to lead a rousing chorus of the theme song for The Brady Bunch but was dissuaded.
When our book club meets, we have a custom of planning a menu derived from the book under discussion. Heartburn would’ve been the perfect book for this as author Ephron filled Heartburn not only with her heartbreak over her marriage falling apart, but the recipes that accompanied those events. Pasta alla cecio, key lime pie, bread pudding, arugula salad, the world’s most perfect vinaigrette. I had the menu planned before I even finished reading the book.
It was not to be. Although I have promised an independent dinner for my friends, during which we can eat the Heartburn menu and talk in person about everything we normally table to discuss the book.
Although it looks like things will remain closed for at least a few more weeks, I promised a menu for After the Race. When you are ready for your book club, and want to provide a menu inspired by the book, you will have this menu (and recipes!) handy. You can also create a playlist of songs featured in After the Race from this post: https://daeandwrite.wordpress.com/2020/02/27/after-the-race-a-playlist/.
If you’d like a Skype or FaceTime visit with the author, I would be thrilled to join your group for a discussion.
Long Island Ice Tea and Patty Melts. Alex and Meg visit Bear’s in Bloomington at the end of the semester and indulge in these two favorites.
Aunt Trudy’s Baked Chicken and Pie. When Banner and Nellie first arrive at Uncle John and Aunt Trudy’s house, this is the dinner Trudy has prepared.
- 1 5- to 6-pound roasting chicken
- Coarse sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch fresh thyme
- 1 lemon, halved
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 Vidalia onion, thickly sliced
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Place the chicken in a large roasting pan. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with the bunch of thyme, both halves of the lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Scatter the onion slices around the chicken.
Roast the chicken for 1-1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove to a platter and cover with aluminum foil while you prepare the gravy.
For the pie, Indiana is famous for Sugar Cream Pie, also known as Hoosier Pie, the unofficial pie of the state. Here’s a great recipe from Saveur: https://www.saveur.com/sugar-cream-pie-recipe/
Breakfast. Dottie, Alex and Billy have breakfast after Alex and Billy’s first date. Omelettes, fried onions, hash browns, orange juice.
Dottie’s Texas Fried Onions
- Sweet Onions
- 1 tbsp Butter per onion
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil per onion
- Salt to Taste
- Pepper to Taste
Cut the onions into strips, uniform in size. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Use a larger skillet than you think you need. Once the skillet is hot add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is sizzling add the onions and stir to combine. Let the onions sit, uninterrupted, for about 5 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium and stir to combine. Repeat stirring then allowing onions to sit for about 20 minutes. If needed, add an additional tablespoon of butter or olive oil. Continue to stir every 5 minutes until you’re left with golden caramelized onions.
Dottie’s Texas Omelette
Make any flavor of omelette you want (consider some jalapeños, black beans, monteray jack cheese) you want then douse it with HOT SAUCE!!
The Celtic Fling hosted by Jake’s fraternity served roasted turkey legs, roasted vegetables, shrimp cocktail, and mead (lemonade mixed with pure grain alcohol).
Gamma Chi Omega Lunch The Gamma Chi house always served a salad bar. The girls heaped the lettuce on their plates, then scattered Lay’s potato chips on top and covered the whole thing with homemade Hidden Valley Ranch dressing.
The Alt Family Thanksgiving The Alts have a typical Southern Thanksgiving with Maker’s Mark bourbon, pumpkin pie, roasted turkey, mashed potatoes. Here are a couple of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes culled from the treasure trove of my grandmother’s recipe box.
1 Cup turkey broth
4 cups cornbread crumbs
3/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
Mix together, then round into balls about the size of tennis balls. Bake at 350 until browned.
2 cups pumpkin (from can)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Preheat oven to 450. When it is hot, pour mixed ingredients into pie shell. Bake at 450 for ten minutes then turn the oven down to 350. Bake another 45 minutes or until pie is set.
Lizzie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Lizzie makes her famous chocolate chip cookies for the Alt’s at home and sends them to Alex at college when things get rough. The secret ingredient is substituting bourbon for vanilla extract in the Toll House cookie recipe.
Served on special occasions at the Gamma Chi house and a favorite of all its residents, the dessert is so called because it’s the next best thing to Robert Redford. Substitute butterscotch pie for the chocolate and you get Paul Newman. It’s SOOOO good.
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup flour
1 cup pecans, chopped
For Cream Cheese Layer
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 container (10 ounces) of Cool Whip, thawed
4 cups of chocolate pudding, prepared
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed cream butter. On low speed gradually add the flour and mix just until blended. Stir in pecans. Press into a 13 by 9 inch pan and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool completely.
- In a medium mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Fold in half of the whipped topping. Spread cream cheese mixture over cooled crust.
- Spread chocolate pudding over cream cheese mixture. Then spread vanilla pudding over chocolate pudding. Then spread the remaining whipped topping over vanilla pudding. Sprinkle with chopped pecans and grated chocolate. Chill for several hours before serving.
There you go! I hope you are safe and well.
Remember, a signed copy of After the Race is available for order directly from publisher Rabbit House Press,https://www.rabbithousepress.com. You may also order it from Joseph Beth Booksellers, MacIntosh Books and Paper in Sanibel, and Amazon.com.