Cookbook of the Month!

March’s Cookbook of the Month is…

3-ingredient Slow Cooker Recipes

People love the convenience of their slow cookers. What could be better than walking in the door after a hard day’s work to the smell of beef stew, ready and waiting? A beef stew that only requires three ingredients, that’s what!

The problem with most slow cooker recipes is that they require lots of ingredients and steps before you actually “fix it and forget it.” Not this book-these are truly simple recipes, and best of all, they are memorable, not mushy!

You’ll find recipes like:
*Rosemary Lamb Stew
*Chicken Curry
*Three-Alarm Chili
*Spicy Pot Roast with Onions
*Coq au Vin
*Pork Roast with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Plus, you’ll find recipes for desserts like cheesecake and custard and appetizers like chicken wings and artichoke dip!

 

 

PEPL Book Club – Your February Discussion Questions

no-relationNo Relation – Terry Fallis

 *Note that these questions reveal much of the novel’s plot; to preserve your reading pleasure, please don’t look at these questions until after you’ve finished reading the book.

  1.  How did you experience the book?  Were you engaged immediately, or did it take a while to “get into it”?  How did you feel reading it–amused, sad, disturbed, confused, bored…?
    • why do characters do what they do?
    • are their actions justified?
    • describe the dynamics between characters  (in a marriage, family or friendship)
    • how has the past shaped their lives?
    • do you admire or disapprove of them?
    • do they remind you of people you know?Describe the main characters–personality traits, motivations, inner qualities.
  2. Do the main characters change by the end of the  book?  Do they grow mature?  Do they learn something about themselves and how the world works?
  3. Is the plot engaging–dies the story interest you?  Is this a plot-driven book:  a fast-paced page-turner?  Or does the story unfold slowly with a focus on character development?  Were you surprised by the plot’s complications?  Or did you find it predictable, even formulaic?
  4. Talk about the book’s structure.  Is it a continuous story…or interlocking short stories?  Does the time-line move forward chronologically…or back and forth between past and present?  Does the author use a single viewpoint or shifting viewpoints?  Why might the author have chosen to tell the story the way he or she did–and what difference does it make in the way you read or understand it?
  5. What main ideas–themes–does the author explore? (Consider the title, often a clue to a theme.)  Does the author use symbols to reinforce the main ideas?
  6. What passages strike you as insightful, even profound?  Perhaps a bit of dialogue that’s funny or poignant or that encapsulates a character?  Maybe there’s a particular comment that states the book’s thematic concerns?
  7. Is the ending satisfying?  If so, why?  If not, why not…and how would you change it?
  8. If you could ask the author a question, what would you ask?  Have you read other books by the same author?  If so how does this book compare?  If not, does this book inspire you to read others?
  9. Has this novel changed you–broadened your perspective?  Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world?

 

PEPL Book Club – Your January Read Is…

The StorytellerThe Storyteller – Jodi Picoult

Some stories live forever . . .

Sage Singer is a baker. She works through the night, preparing the day’s breads and pastries, trying to escape a reality of loneliness, bad memories, and the shadow of her mother’s death. When Josef Weber, an elderly man in Sage’s grief support group, begins stopping by the bakery, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Despite their differences, they see in each other the hidden scars that others can’t, and they become companions.

Everything changes on the day that Josef confesses a long-buried and shameful secret-one that nobody else in town would ever suspect-and asks Sage for an extraordinary favor. If she says yes, she faces not only moral repercussions, but potentially legal ones as well. With her own identity suddenly challenged, and the integrity of the closest friend she’s ever had clouded, Sage begins to question the assumptions and expectations she’s made about her life and her family. When does a moral choice become a moral imperative? And where does one draw the line between punishment and justice, forgiveness and mercy?

In this searingly honest novel, Jodi Picoult gracefully explores the lengths we will go in order to protect our families and to keep the past from dictating the future.

Not in book club yet? Contact us at 519-595-8395

Want to read this book too? Put it on hold at pepl.bibliocommons.com

PEPL Book Club Final Thoughts…

The Hundred Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais

As a group we rate this book:

1                 2             3                               5

  Total waste                           It was ok                         GREAT READ!

Would you recommend this book to others?

     YES                                          NO

Why or why not?

This was an easy read but not too challenging. NOT ALL of us agreed! I thought it was a good read (but I’m a foodie!). Book was different than the movie.

Want to join the book club? Call the library at 519-595-8395!

PEPL Book Club – Your December Discussion Questions

The Hundred-Foot Journey – Richard C. Morais

The Hundred-foot Journey

The title of the novel is “The Hundred-Foot Journey”. Discuss the title in relation to where Hassan started and where he ends up – in both the geographic and the psychological senses. Ultimately, which journey do you feel was more important? To which other characters might the title apply, and in what ways? Even characters like Madame Mallory who never leave home are somehow transformed through the course of the novel. Discuss how Hassan’s transformation is different or similar to that of other characters in the book.

The Haji family firsts settles in London before embarking on a whirlwind journey across Europe and eventually settling in Lumiere. Discuss Hassan’s time in London. How did his stay there influence his later life? Why do you think Abbas eventually decided his family needed to move on?

After Hassan’s hands are burned, Madame Mallory, alone in a small chapel, thinks about her life while staring at the chapel’s fresco: “And in the depths of those glinting little eyes she sees the balance sheet of her life, an endless list of credits and debits, of accomplishments and failures, small acts of kindness and real acts of cruelty” (pg. 120). Do you see life in the same terms, as a balance sheet of how we act and what we achieve? Do you think her offer to teach Hassan is a true act of kindness, or because she felt she owed the universe a great debt? Or some combination of both?

While Hassan’s father undoubtedly plays an important role in his son’s life, Hassan is strongly influenced by the women around him. Consider his grandmother, his mother, Madame Mallory, Margaret, and even his sister Mehtab. What does he learn from each of these women at various points throughout the novel, both in the kitchen and otherwise?

Choose one adjective you think best sums up the character of Hassan and share it with the group. Were you surprised by how the others in your group perceived him? What are his strengths and his weaknesses? How is your perception of his character altered throughout the story?

Madame Mallory says to Hassen “Good taste is not the birthright of snobs, but a gift from God sometimes found in the most unlikely of places and in the unlikeliest of people” (pg. 235). What do you think about the statement and the particular way she phrases it?

Chef Tom Colicchio said that “in the Hundred-Foot Journey, food isn’t just a theme, it’s a main character.” Do you agree? Discuss the relationships between the cahracters and the food described in the book. How does this novel illustrate the old adage that “you are what you eat”?

Did Hassan’s decision to move to Paris, and eventually open a French restaurant, surprise you? Why or why not? Do you feel his experiences in Mumbai – in the kitchen if his family’s restaurant and exploring the city with his mother – were influential in his later work? How?

“It was shortly thereafter, sitting in the bathtub, drinking a tea spiked with garam masala and dripping with sweat , all the while thinking of my father, that the name of the new restaurant suddenly came to me” (pg.166). Look up the meaning of “Le Chien Mechant” and discuss its significance as the name of Hassan’s restaurant. Compare it to the other restaurants  named in the book, such as Paul Verdun’s Le Coq d’Or, Madame Mallory’s Le Saule Pleureur, or even the Hassan family’s Maison Mumbai. How much (or how little) can be told about each character from the name of their restaurant?

In reworking the menu of Le Chien Mechant, Hassan tells his staff to “go back to your hometowns, back to your roots across France” (pg. 204). Do you think that, until this point, he had forgotten the importance of the home and family, of roots and past experiences, in his journey to become the best chef he could be?

Later, Hassan walks by a small, hole-in-the-wall Indian restaurant in Paris and stands at the window for a while. As he leaves, he reflects, “I took one longing last look at Madras…leaving behind the intoxicating smalls of machli ka salan, an olfactory wisp of who I was, fading fast in the Parisian night” (pg. 235). Do you feel this passage is symbolic as well as literal? Did Hassan have to leave behind a part of who he was to keep moving forward? Do you think this was a choice he consciously made? Do you agree with his choice? What did Hassan gain and what did he lose in his journey?

In the elite world of haute cuisine, what are the costs of rising to the top? Discuss this idea in relation to Madame Mallory and Paul Verdun, and then to Hassan and his family. Do you think the sacrifices were worth the successes? Do you think that all artists are forced to give up something incredibly vital in pursuit of their passions? Did Hassan manage to avoid the trap of his mentors?

 

PEPL Book Club: Final Thoughts…

Amity & Sorrow – Peggy Riley

As a group we rate this book:

                2             3               4                 5

  Total waste                           It was ok                         GREAT READ!

Would you recommend this book to others?

     YES                                          NO

Why or why not?

We answered all of the discussion questions and had lots of discussion but none of us enjoyed reading it.

Want to join the book club? Call the library at 519-595-8395!