Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Book Club

It was my turn to host book club last week for a discussion of Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. This "teen lit" work of fiction tells the story of Melody, an eleven year old non-verbal girl with cerebral palsy. All of us really enjoyed the book and the great conversation it sparked about individuals with disabilities.

They say that one of the best ways to understand another culture is through its food. In Out of My Mind, Melody's physical limitations made her unable to feed herself or to chew food easily. I thought it would be interesting to explore some of the foods mentioned in the book in order to better understand the life of its main character. I also served store bought chocolate chip cookies, soft caramels, goldfish crackers, and mudslides (a.k.a. grown-up milkshakes).

This recipe is super easy and super yummy! A squeeze of lemon would be nice if you substitute a less tart apple variety.

Serves 8
4 Granny Smith apples - peeled, cored, and chopped
3/4 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until the apples are soft. Mash with a fork or potato masher to desired consistency. I like mine a little chunky and served warm.

Oh my gosh! These were so good - and this picture is so awful! I scarfed  down a slider on my way to answer the door and then snapped a quick pic right as book club was starting. I pretty much used Laurie McNamara's recipe as is, but I did swap out the the colby jack for American cheese to come a little closer to Mickey D's. And of course I had to make sesame seed buns.

Serves 6, 2 sliders each
1 1/2 lb. ground beef
2-3 scallions, sliced thin
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
12 whole wheat slider buns
1 egg white, beaten
Sesame seeds
3 slices American cheese, cut into 12 squares
12 slices pickle
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Thousand Island dressing
Frilled toothpicks
1. Spray an electric griddle with cooking spray and heat to 350. Preheat broiler.
2. Mix ground beef, scallions, olive oil, salt, and pepper by hand until just combined. Form into 12 patties.Cook burgers on the electric griddle 3-5 min. per side or to desired degree of doneness.
3. Meanwhile, arrange buns cut side down on a baking sheet. Brush the top buns only with egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Toast under the broiler until you just start to see some browning - about 90 seconds.
4. Assemble the burgers with a bottom bun, burger, cheese square, pickle slice, lettuce, dressing, and top bun. Secure with a toothpick.

This picture is equally awful - again, snapped right before book club. Picture aside, this is an awesome recipe that I have made many, many times. It's actually meant to be frozen, so it's pretty saucy. (Check out the original recipe if you're interested.) The chicken broth gives it a lot of flavor and lightens it up a bit, too.

Serves 8-10
1 lb. elbow macaroni
Salt and pepper
6 T. all-purpose flour
8 T. butter, divided
1 t. dry mustard
4 c. low-sodium chicken broth
2 c. fat-free milk
4 c. shredded colby cheese
2 c. shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices whole wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 garlic clove, minced
1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water with 1 T. salt for about 3 min. or until barely softened. Drain.
2. Melt 6 T. butter in empty pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and dry mustard, stirring constantly until golden and fragrant, 1-2 min. Slowly whisk in broth and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened, about 15 min. Off heat, whisk in colby, cheddar, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper until smooth.
3. Stir pasta into sauce, breaking up any clumps, until well-combined. Pour into a 9x13-inch baking dish and cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes.
4. Melt remaining 2 T. butter. Pulse bread, Parmesan, garlic, and melted butter in food processor until coarsely ground. Remove foil from baking dish and sprinkle with prepared bread crumbs. Continue to bake about 20 min. longer or until crumbs are golden and crisp. Let cool 10 min. before serving.

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