Proof that I Actually Can Sometimes Every Once in a While Cook

Okay. Here’s a test for book-club members. My four-woman group recently read a newly published book about family relationships that’s been making the rounds lately. (Side note: We were sort of “meh” about it, but more on that later.) It was my turn to host, and since at our mettings we always try to outdo and impress each other prepare a meal that ties in to the book we’ve read, I felt as if I’d hit the jackpot because one of the main characters in this book is a chef. Food descriptions are scattered throughout, and, honestly, we all agreed that they were the best part of this book. Anyway, I took my cue from the book and made, among other things, Elvis Cookies (roasted banana ice cream sandwiched between peanut butter cookes and rolled in caramelized bacon) and a spinach frittata. So the question is: What book did we read? If you’ve been keeping up with book-club news, you should get it. Of course, the other question is: Did anybody actually believe I’d made this entire meal myself, all by myself? As a widely known non-cook, I can understand folks’ skepticism. After all, while I worked in the kitchen that day, my husband anxiously kept asking me, “Honey? What are you doing? Do you feel okay?” and my fellow book-club members were stunned into silence when they saw their plates. At least, I think that’s why they didn’t say anything as they were eating.

Books and Fudge

Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyIf you have time to squeeze in one more summer read, make it “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” a delightful history lesson, love story and entertaining read all in one. Did you have any idea that the British island of Guernsey was occupied by the Germans during World War II? It was news to me. In a gentle peeling away of layers of secrets, this book chronicles the occupation and its aftermath and the island residents’ courage and human spirit to endure. Plus, it’s written in one of my favorite literary styles: A series of letters. I love reading books that make me feel as if I’m peeking into the characters’ real lives — that all this is really happening and we readers get to watch it unfold naturally. Plus, who doesn’t love the vicarious thrill of reading other people’s letters? The story of the writing of this book also will move you. I won’t spoil it for you, but the authors were passionate about their subject and about getting the book written and in readers’ hands.

And there’s still more to this story. My four-woman book club chose this a couple months ago. In this group, the hostess chooses the book, leads the discussion and usually gives out favors related to the month’s read. My friend Cheryl was hosting for “Guernsey,” and she went online to find out more about the island and get some ideas for favors. Jackpot! She found Guernsey Cream Fudge from Channel Island Confectionery Ltd. and ordered a variety of flavors for Guernsey fudgeus. I’m telling you that this is the best fudge I’ve ever had. It’s different, probably, from what you think fudge should taste like — this is smooth and creamy (but not soft) and literally melts in your mouth. It’s rich without that too-much-sugar-and-butter aftertaste. Plus, Cheryl struck up an e-mail correspondence with the fudge folks, who sent us much more information about the German occupation and their own family’s experiences during the war. They even invited our book club to Guernsey for a visit! Since the four of us have a hard enough time organizing our monthly meetings, that probably won’t happen, but it was nice to be asked — and, when you read the book, you’ll see that that’s exactly how things unfolded in the story. Anyway, order some fudge at — and read the book.