Southern Super Supper Book Club Menu

Southern Super Supper Book Club Menu

It’s “Read An eBook Week” and my recipes and read are available for immediate download! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Almost Sisters” by Joshilyn Jackson and my “Sunday Best Dishes” menu.

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Last year I discovered author Joshilyn Jackson and devoured every book she’s written in record time.

For me, her characters, strong Southern women, strike a chord with so many attributes I aspire to. Her heroines face challenges that we can identify with, although hopefully in not such a dramatic manner!

For this book club, I’ve chosen the book “The Almost Sisters”.

This is not her most recent book, but I find it to be very current given our present political climate. And although this book is in no way political, it does deal with issues in the headlines.

Here is a summary from Amazon:

“With empathy, grace, humor, and piercing insight, the author of gods in Alabama pens a powerful, emotionally resonant novel of the South that confronts the truth about privilege, family, and the distinctions between perception and reality—the stories we tell ourselves about our origins and who we really are.

 

Superheroes have always been Leia Birch Briggs’ weakness. One tequila-soaked night at a comics convention, the usually level-headed graphic novelist is swept off her barstool by a handsome and anonymous Batman.

 

It turns out the caped crusader has left her with more than just a nice, fuzzy memory. She’s having a baby boy—an unexpected but not unhappy development in the thirty-eight-year-old’s life. But before Leia can break the news of her impending single-motherhood (including the fact that her baby is biracial) to her conventional, Southern family, her step-sister Rachel’s marriage implodes.

 

Worse, she learns her beloved ninety-year-old grandmother, Birchie, is losing her mind, and she’s been hiding her dementia with the help of Wattie, her best friend since girlhood.

 

Leia returns to Alabama to put her grandmother’s affairs in order, clean out the big Victorian that has been in the Birch family for generations, and tell her family that she’s pregnant. Yet just when Leia thinks she’s got it all under control, she learns that illness is not the only thing Birchie’s been hiding.

 

Tucked in the attic is a dangerous secret with roots that reach all the way back to the Civil War. Its exposure threatens the family’s freedom and future, and it will change everything about how Leia sees herself and her sister, her son and his missing father, and the world she thinks she knows.”

There’s a pivotal scene in the book that serves as the catalyst for bringing Leia home to Alabama and her grandmother. Birchie and her caretaker, Wattie attend a potluck supper after Sunday church. It’s Birchie’s out-of-character outburst in front of the parishioners that sends a distress call to Leia.

Sunday after church potluck suppers are a tradition in the South. I must have been on the same wavelength with Ms. Jackson when I wrote an entire chapter of the potluck recipes in my book, “Sunday Best Dishes.”

This book is the perfect one for recipes for your book club menus. Buy one and share it with all of your book club members!

This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. 

Here’s a menu that will work perfectly for your book discussion of “The Almost Sisters”:

Pretty Potluck Beans

Sunday Best Dishes, page 73

Southern-Style Chicken Pot with Okra and Collards

Sunday Best Dishes, page 79

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham and Green Onions

Sunday Best Dishes, page 83

Trio of Picnic Salads

Sunday Best Dishes, page 123

#RecipesAndReads

 

Here are a couple of book club discussion questions to get you started:

  • There are multiple relationships in the novel that fit the title The Almost Sisters description. How did the title take on new meaning to you as the story developed?
  • Despite her worsening dementia, Birchie is still a strong character throughout the book. How would you describe her lifelong friendship with Wattie? Did your impressions change throughout the novel? Why do you think Birchie chose to keep their true relationship a secret even as times changed?
  • Leia makes the decision to hide her pregnancy early on and keeps her secret throughout much of the story. Do you think Leia made the right decision? Were you surprised by the characters’ reactions when her pregnancy was revealed?

Explore Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
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Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Valentine’s Day Dinner Ideas: Beloved Travel Recipes

Need dinner ideas for Valentine’s Day?

Inspired Global Recipes

With Love From Jorj

#wanderlove

This Valentine’s Day, let’s take a trip around the world without leaving your own cozy kitchen. Let’s create a menu inspired by far-away places. Let’s create a dish or two to share with those you may not have seen in a while. And while we’re doing all of this, let’s share some LOVE…’cause all you need is….

FOOD!

Food that you can share with your loves. Canvas and Cuisine, the book I wrote with Susan Fazio is filled with foods that are inspired by our travels. But, more than this, the book is about love… love of family, love of neighbors, love of friendships. My gift to you this Valentines’ Day is all about LOVE. It’s about creating dishes that inspire you. Food that takes you just a bit your of your comfort zone. And dishes, that beg for your inventiveness.

Canvas & Cuisine

Grab the book that contains ALL of my travel adventures, and original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.

New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

#inthekitchenwithjorj

Let’s go!

 

Download your taste of travel adventure and make memories around the table.

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Make This Garden Art Focaccia Bread That Simply Inspires

Easy Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe – Farmer’s Market Edition!

This garden bread art recipe was inspired by traditional Azerbaijani outdoor cooking and my love for all things fresh from the Farmer’s Market! Join me as I revisit my focaccia bread that first appeared in “Canvas and Cuisine: The Art of the Fresh Market” 

Skip to recipe

Sometimes inspiration just hits! For me it started with the Azerbaijan cooking vlogs that constantly show up in my Facebook feed. 

I used to look forward to seeing friends and kids of friends and grandkids of friends. 

Now, I peer into the screen waiting to see my adorable Azerbaijan friends as they emerge through the green door of their tiny house to forage through the woods, harvesting as they go. 

The only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and chirping birds. He throws down a metal pan, slices some logs and before you know it there is a working oven in the middle of a field or by the side of a stream or at the top of a ridge!

She uses a clever wooden board to chop everything from onions to a whole leg of lamb. He makes tea out of the flowers he picks as he passes the field. 

I’m inspired by everything that they cook – always outdoors and always on an open fire. But what gets me the most is how she (Lord, I wish I knew her name) bakes bread at almost every meal using nothing but her hands and a covered skillet. 

It’s amazing! 

And even more, it makes me crave fresh baked bread almost daily. 

Let’s face it…I have every modern tool known to man starting with electricity and ending with a machine fitted with a dough hook and still, I find bread making to be daunting.

I’m over it! If my Azerbaijan friend can bake gloriously delicious-looking bread over an open fire, then I can certainly take my bread baking to a new level using my state of the art kitchen. Right?

I have a really good recipe for focaccia bread in my book “Canvas and Cuisine: Art of the Fresh Market”.

The dough comes together quickly and rises when requested. It bakes in about 15 minutes and has just enough crumb to distinguish itself from flatbread. It’s my go-to bread recipe, so I decided that my focaccia dough would be my canvas.

My morning trip to the Farmer’s market yielded all sorts of treasurers. I purchased peppers and multi-colored carrots. I gathered my favorite purple-green tomatoes and all sorts of herbs. When I laid out all of these, I saw my plan come together. I would create a flower garden using veggies and herbs to decorate my bread. I would make my Azerbaijan friend proud! 

It’s all in the planning, so I laid out my design on parchment paper while the bread was rising. This was the smartest thing that I did, because I could change things around on paper that I would have been stuck with when placed on the bread dough.

I used red onions for flower petals and chives for stems. I sliced the carrots using my mandoline and cut olives, red cherry bomb peppers and grape tomatoes into thin slices. Sage and parsley leaves pulled everything together and my flower garden was born.

In the end, it worked like a charm and my pals oohed and awed at the results. I must admit I was pretty impressed with myself!

My Azerbaijan friend started me on this journey. (I feel I have more to come!!) The Farmer’s market furthered my vision.

And here’s my take from this experience. Inspiration can be found anywhere; you just have to open your eyes. 

What’s going to inspire you this week??

Garden Art Focaccia Bread Recipe

 

Servings

6-8

Ready In:

20 Minutes plus a few hours for bread to rise

Good For:

Appetizer, Brunch

Ingredients for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread

 

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 ¾ cups warm water

  • 5 cups unbleached all-purpose

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup olive oil, divided

  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons sea salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme 

  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary

Directions for Garden Art FOCACCIA Bread 

 

Place the yeast and sugar into a small bowl. Stir in the warm water. Place the bowl in a warm place until the yeast is bubbling and fragrant, about 15 minutes. I use the proof setting on my warming drawer for this.

Use an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook to combine the flour, salt, ½ cup of olive oil and the yeast to form a dough. Once the dough comes together, continue to knead the dough in the machine until smooth. Stop the machine and check the dough every couple of minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic, hold its shape around the dough hook and spring back when you indent it with your finger. This takes anywhere from 5 to 8 minutes using the mixer. If you are kneading by hand, knead until you can’t knead anymore!

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Knead it by hand for an additional 30 seconds. If the dough is too sticky, you can sprinkle with additional flour. Form the dough into a ball and transfer to a bowl that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Cover and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour. I use my warming drawer for this step, too.

 

Pour the remaining cup of olive oil onto a 12 ½ x 17 ½ x 1-inch jelly roll pan. Transfer the dough to the pan, stretching it out to fill the pan. Turn and coat with oil on both sides. Use your finger to poke indentations into the dough. These will be the “nooks and crannies” to hold the seasoning in the next step. Place the dough in a warm place to rise again, for 1 hour. Yep, the warming drawer is still the best place!

Preheat the oven to 400°. Transfer the pan from its warm place. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, sea salt, thyme, and rosemary. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil. Bake until the top of the bread is golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool the bread in the pan before cutting into squares.

 

The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need

The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need

How to make easy fruit chutney recipe

 The Only Fruit Chutney Recipe You’ll Ever Need (And It’s Peachy Keen!)

If you’re looking for the perfect chutney recipe, look no further. This easy peach chutney recipe can be used with a variety of fruits and is great on crackers, sandwiches, or even cheese plates. Create your own signature chutney with the only chutney recipe you’ll ever need from Jorj’s kitchen!

When your brother-in-law calls on the way to your house to visit and asks if you want him to bring you some peaches, you say, “Yes”! 

And when he shows up at your house with a bag, a basket, and a box full of peaches, you say, “Thank you.” 

And on the day, he leaves, and all those peaches are lined up on your counter waiting for your inspiration, you say, “What can I make?”

Then it hits. Peach chutney.

Chutney is a condiment made with fruit and spices. I keep jars of chutney in my pantry. If guests drop by unexpectedly, I use chutney on top of goat cheese or cream cheese as an appy.

Chutney spices up my bacon and cheese panini sandwich and is just lovely spooned over pork or chicken. A spoonful of chutney added to your homemade chicken salad makes for a nice twist.

Mix it into mayo for a yummy condiment on your turkey sandwich or into sour cream for an easy dip.



Think of chutney as a spicy jam and you will find all sorts of things to do with it.

Here’s my recipe for a simple, fresh chutney that will last for weeks in your fridge.

It’s easy to prepare and a lot better than those in the jar because you taste the freshness of the fruit and control the amount of heat.

You can make chutney with pears, apples, mangos… really any fruit will work well.

All you do is throw everything into a pot and simmer until the fruit begins to break down, merging all the flavors together.

It’s fun to make, yummy to eat and a treat to share with family and friends. 

Hey, brother-in-law, these peaches were just peachy keen!

Servings

3 Cups

Ready In:

30 minutes ’til ready!

Good For:

Appetizers, Spreads, Dip, Lunch

Heat the olive oil in a deep pot over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onion and cook until just soft, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the peaches and tomatoes. Stir in the brown sugar. Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low. Season with Chinese Five spice, salt, and pepper. Simmer until the peaches just begin to break apart and the chutney thickens about 20 to 25 minutes.

The longer you simmer, the thicker the chutney! 

Cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in the fridge.

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • 2 to 3 medium-hot cherry peppers, seeded and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • ½ red onion, peeled and finely diced, about ½ cup
  • 6 ripe peaches, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled and diced, about 3 cups
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Note

To peel the peaches and tomatoes, use a sharp knife to cut slits in the top. Place into boiling water for a minute or two. Remove and cool slightly. The peel will come off easily from the slits.

Another Note

After you peel the tomatoes, you can squeeze out the extra juice and seeds by pushing them gently through a colander.

Celebrate Labor Day 2021 With These Backyard Party Recipes

Celebrate Labor Day 2021 With These Backyard Party Recipes

Can you believe that it’s Labor Day 2021 already? Whether you’re cooking for one or many, there’s never been a better time to let your creativity shine with these tried-and-true backyard recipes!

Labor Day 2021 has long signaled that Summer is winding down to a close and Fall will soon be ushered in. 

We’re not letting our tasty backyard celebrations slip by just yet. What better way to celebrate than with these Labor Day recipes?

Check out these delicious party ideas that are perfect for any outdoor celebration! 

All of these recipes can be made in under an hour and most have ingredients you may already have in your fridge.

Whether you’re cooking for one or many, there’s never been a better time to let your creativity shine with these tried-and-true backyard favorites.

Street Corn Caesar Salad

Hand salads open the doors to your creativity. Yes, this is salad you can eat with your hands. Think lettuce cups and endive spears filled with salad ingredients.

Steak Fajitas

Cook flanks steaks on an outdoor grill and serve all the fixin’s on the side for your Labor Day guests to savor!

Poblano Pepper Short Ribs

Social-distance Summer just got hotter with pecks of peppers, two ways! Add fresh air and “bubble friends” for this backyard feast!

Watermelon Margarita

I concocted a cocktail that turned out to be a BIG hit at a backyard BBQ!

You might want to serve this easy and tasty festive, summer drink at your Labor Day picnic.

We use our fruit-flavored tequila to make this “Watermelon Margarita”:

 

Watermelon Margarita Fruit Cocktail for Labor Day

The Recipe:

Prepare the base for the cocktail by emulsifying the inside of a seedless watermelon.

We mushed up (this is a highly technical culinary term – not used by Julia in any of her 700 pages) two large watermelons for our outdoor party.

Add two or more large cans of lime concentrate to the watermelon slush. You can prepare this base in advance. Pour it into a large container and refrigerate.

For Watermelon Margaritas, take a lime wedge and run it around the rim of a margarita glass.

Combine margarita salt with a bit of granulated sugar and place onto a small plate or into a shallow bowl.

Dip the rim of the glass into the salt/sugar combo.

Pour the slush mixture into the glass. Top with a drizzle of Triple Sec Liqueur and a generous splash of fruit flavored tequila. Top with a fresh, pitted cherry.

Mother’s Day Best Recipes: Make Together Ideas!

Mother’s Day Best Recipes: Make Together Ideas!

It’s Mother’s Day, and I have just the (fool-proof!) plan for your at-home celebrations. These dishes don’t skimp on thoughtful details but are quick and easy to prepare with all of the kiddos!

No matter what they call you (or how many times they shout your name), when they call for mom, they are calling out of need.

“Mom, where’s this…”
“Mom, can you believe she did that?”
“Mom, tell him to stop touching me!!!”
“Mom, I can’t find……………..”

Well, on this one Sunday in May, we Moms don’t need to have all of the answers.

In fact, it may be the only day of the year when you can reply, “Ask your father,” without ending your marriage in the process.

Let me help get your Mother’s Day morning (or noon or Saturday before!) inspired with a few of my favorite recipes that are easy enough to prepare, absolutely perfect to share, and will definitely show your care.

Ask your family to whip these up or make it a group activity!

When Life Gives You Lemons….. Make Lemon Curd!

When life gives you lemons…..Make lemon curd! You can spread lemon curd on your English muffin, swirl it in the center of a pound cake, whip it into a mousse, transform it into ice cream or make lemon curd parfaits for a light, airy, and bright spring dessert.

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Breakfast Skillet with Glazed Eggs

Here’s my make-it-at-home version of breakfast pizza that’s easily prepared, and tastes just like the one from the market. It’s just a little slice of breakfast heaven!

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Camp Greystone Famous Opening-Day Scones

This is the recipe for the famous Camp Greystone opening day scones. The campers are greeted with these on the first day of camp. The parents are given some to take on the trip home and then hustled out the door. It’s a camp tradition that has met with success for generations, and one I am always excited to recreate with my granddaughter.

 

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Chilled Strawberry Soup for Hot Days

Say, “Hello” to DOUGHNUT Muffins! Get everyone into the act when making these delicious treats. My grandson Sammy LOVES donuts and has got in on the fun: Little ones can brush the warm butter and sprinkle the toppings and the older kids can stir the ingredients together and wash up the bowls! 

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What to Feed Your April Fool? How About Dinner for Breakfast?

There are so many savory breakfast classics, but this one is something special.  In Spain, it’s just a tapa, but in my house, it can be breakfast, brunch, and even dinner! Try this potato torte and pair it with sangria for an authentic experience. 😉

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