Cook the Books Club, generally picks a food centric book and then those choosing to join in post a recipe inspired by the book.
Lit Happens is very casual. Done entirely on facebook, this one is done more book club style, with online discussion questions (and books are not necessarily food centric).
The book for both clubs was Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown. Recipe for a Perfect Wife follows two women from two different decades, Alice from contemporary times, and Nellie from the 1950s.
I had very mixed feelings about the book. I loved it at the beginning and was disgusted by the end. Here’s my GoodReads review:
Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I loved this book until about 3/4 of the way through...I loved slowly unraveling Nellie's story of life in the 50's with a less than ideal husband. Even though I thought her story was drawn out, I loved following modern-day Alice as she learned to love her old house and appreciate the 50's.
But things slowly take a dark turn that I thought was unnecessary to the plot. As I mentioned above, the storylines I loved with Nellie and Alice were enough for me. Then, (view spoiler)[lies, deceit, poisoning, spousal abuse, abortion, and murder come in to play. WHY? I mean, maybe just choose one or two, but ALL OF THEM?!? The result was that absolutely every character became revolting and off-putting. I could no longer relate with anyone of them. Why do they all need to be so deeply flawed? Seriously - everyone is a horrible person by the end. (hide spoiler)]
Anyhow, I had to knock it down to 3 stars for ruining the ending. I'm going to try to just remember the beginning part that I loved!
View all my reviews
Nevertheless, I was inspired to get cooking. One nice touch in the book was that the author added recipe references in the back. The recipes referenced by both Nellie and Alice throughout the book came from real magazines and cookbooks from the 1950s. Even better, I happened to have a copy of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook from which many of the recipes originated. Fun fact, the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook, originally from the 1950s, has been updated a number of times through the decades, but around the time I got married in the early 2000s, the publishers reprinted the original (including all of the recipes and original pictures). A few of the recipes my mom and grandma have made over the years originate from that cookbook as well.
Therefore, it was a no-brainer to turn to the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook for recipe inspiration. I think this is the first time I went through the cook book over to cover, because I wanted to find all the recipes mentioned in the novel that I could! And yes, I even found the revolting Deviled Ham Spread (check name).
In the end, I was intrigued by the 1950s staple: the canape. Specifically, I went for Hot Cheese Puff Canapes, made with whipped egg whites and shredded cheddar broiled on top of toast rounds. They were delicious! Even Spud was brave enough to give these a try (Hubs and I couldn’t get enough!)
Hot Cheese Puff Canapes
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookook
6-8 thin slices of bread
2-4 tablespoons butter (for spreading on bread)
Pinch of garlic per toast
2 egg whites
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
Spread one side of each slice of bread with butter. Season with a pinch of garlic. Place, butter side up on a baking sheet and broil until toasted. Remove from oven and flip the toasts over.
Place the egg whites into a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add the baking powder, salt, and paprika, and beat another minute.
Gently fold in the shredded cheese.
Scoop the mixture onto the prepared toasts and broil for 2-5 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately