Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

Southern Supper Book Club: “Big Lies in a Small Town”

It’s National Book Lover’s Day and my book club party planner is here! Host a Southern-style book club supper with “Big Lies In A Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain and these recipes from my cookbooks.

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I must admit, I was captivated by this book from the first sentence. After all the main character’s first name is Morgan.

Her surname is Christopher (name of my middle son) and her boyfriend’s name is Trey (name of oldest son). There’s a Jon in there somewhere, I’m sure!

The extra pull is that the novel is set in my adopted state of North Carolina jumping back and forth from the early forties and to the present. But it is the writing that really captures the reader. You feel like the characters are your peers. You find yourself dancing in a time warp while you are cheering for the heroine(s).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club. Gather your readers, give them the title and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

Morgan Christopher’s life has been derailed. Taking the fall for a crime she did not commit; she finds herself serving a three-year stint in the North Carolina Women’s Correctional Center. Her dream of a career in art is put on hold―until a mysterious visitor makes her an offer that will see her released immediately. Her assignment: restore an old post office mural in a sleepy southern town. Morgan knows nothing about art restoration, but desperate to leave prison, she accepts. What she finds under the layers of grime is a painting that tells the story of madness, violence, and a conspiracy of small town secrets.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • After a year, you get your hands on a cell phone for the first time. Who do you call? 
  • Was it brave or crazy for Jesse’s family to aid Anna?
  • Does Morgan ever come to accept that alcohol is a problem for her, or does she simply comply with her parole requirements?

My Southern inspiration for this Super Supper Book Club menu is Jesse’s family’s Sunday dinner. I take the liberty of substituting Anna’s least favorite vegetable (collard greens) with my delicious recipe for Swiss chard. I exchange corn on with cob for creamed corn. In place of stewed tomatoes liberated from the family’s root cellar, I substitute slow roasted cherry tomatoes.

The author didn’t mention a dessert, but I bet the farm, there was strawberry shortcake somewhere, sometime on Sundays. My swaps are allowed, because all these recipes are rooted in my love of the South. Lest there be controversary during the discussion, keep those paintbrushes close to allow everyone to express themselves.

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

Super Supper Book Club Menu: “Big Lies in a Small Town” by Diane Chamberlain

Fried Chicken Basket

Sunday Best Dishes, page 71

Creamy Smashed Parmesan Potatoes

Sunday Best Dishes, page 280

Braised Rainbow Chard

Canvas and Cuisine, page 124

Old-Fashioned Cream Corn

Fresh Traditions, page 208

Slow Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Fresh Traditions, page 205

Photo by <a href="https://unsplash.com/@helloimnik?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Hello I'm Nik</a> on Unsplash

Southern-Style Strawberry Shortcake

Canvas and Cuisine, page 331

Explore Jorj's Cookbooks

7 Cookbooks and Counting!
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Spaghetti Squash! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Spaghetti Squash! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Join Jorj In The Kitchen!

Make spaghetti squash my way with two versatile recipes!

Join me in the kitchen as I make macaroni magic with a spaghetti squash twist!

You’ll love my approach to making versatile dinner ideas with summer squash that is fully flavorful and family approved!

Roasted Spaghetti Squash

Cajun Spaghetti Squash Boat With Shrimp

The Art of The Fresh Market

Grab the book that contains my favorite travel adventures, with inspired original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.
New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

Fry Day, My Way: Make Duck Fat Fries Easy

Fry Day, My Way: Make Duck Fat Fries Easy

Make fries at home with this easy French Fry recipe that calls for a secret ingredient: Duck fat!

I LOVE French fries.

I love fries whether they come supersized from that drive-thru joint on the corner or truffled from that upscale restaurant calling them frites.

I love fries smothered in ketchup or piled high with chili and cheese. I love fries alongside a burger or in a basket with fried shrimp. I just love fries!

I make fries at home, fry them twice as preferred and even serve them with my homemade ketchup.

However, the one thing I haven’t tried was to fry them in duck fat.

Why duck fat? Well, when I researched duck fat, some believe it to be a better-for-you fat than other animal fats like lard.

But, since I don’t use lard to fry, I don’t see this as a huge benefit. Then I read that frying in duck fat produces a crispier fry. Well, you had me at crispy!

So, I gave it a try and darn if it isn’t true. 

You can render the fat from duck and store it in the fridge.

Or you can buy a jar or two of duck fat right from the grocery shelf.

The fat is clean and clear when cooking and afterward. The fries are less greasy, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside.

These fries hold up; rigid and perfect for dipping.

In honor of National French Fry Day, I encourage you to cook up a batch of fries…and then eat a bunch for me!

A Fry Above All Others: Jorj’s Duck Fat Fries

Servings

A Crowd

Ready In:

30 Minutes ‘Til Ready

Good For:

Appetizer, Snack, Side

For Fries:

2 large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed

Duck fat for frying

For ketchup:

1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste 

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

¼ teaspoon ground mustard 

¼ teaspoon cinnamon 

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves 

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 

¼ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for fries 

¼ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Tried it? Tag it!

I would love to see what you did with this recipe.  Share your creation by tagging #inthekitchenwithjorj and with Scrumptious Possibilities With Jorj, my free private home cooking group.

Peel the potato and cut it into 4 planks. Cut each plank into 4 strips. Place the strips into a bowl of cold water for at least 30 minutes. This removes some of the starch. Alternately, you can leave the peel on. It’s a more rustic fry this way. And you can cut it into thinner strips for a skinnier fry. It’s YOUR choice.

For the ketchup, whisk together tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a small pan over low heat. Pour in ¼ cup water. Whisk until smooth. Cook until the sugar melts and the ketchup is warmed through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside and let the flavors blend at room temperature or in the refrigerator overnight. The longer it sits, the better your ketchup.

Transfer the potato strips to paper toweling and blot dry. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Pour enough olive oil to come ⅓-inch up the side of the skillet. Use a candy thermometer to heat the oil to 325°. Place some of the potatoes into the oil and cook until just beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. This will cook the inside of the potato. Do this in batches so you do not crowd the skillet. Transfer the potato strips to a cooking sheet lined with paper towels. You can pre-cook the fries in advance and finish the frying just before mealtime.

Increase the temperature until the oil reaches 375°. Place the pre-cooked potato strips into the hot oil. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the fries to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Season with a generous sprinkle of coarse salt.

Serve your French fries with ketchup to dip!

Say Cheese! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Say Cheese! In The Kitchen With Jorj

Join Jorj In The Kitchen!

Ready to make a deliciously decadent buffet of cheesy goodness?

Join me in the kitchen and learn how to make magnificent meals that build upon one of my favorite things…CHEESE!

This decadent and well-deserved spread is perfect for your more indulgent Summer menus, with a wonderful pimento cheese twist.

From deviled eggs to really good turkey burgers, there’s a little something for every picnic basket for days to come!

Pimento Cheese with Seasoned Crackers

Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwiches with Bacon and Berry Jam

Crack Crackers

Really Good Turkey Burgers Sliders with Crispy Shallots and Pimento Cheese

Ham and Turkey Roll-Ups with Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese Deviled Eggs

The Art of The Fresh Market

Grab the book that contains my favorite travel adventures, with inspired original artwork by artist Susan Fazio.
New Year, Old Friends and the Birth of This Book

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Grillin’ and Chillin’ This Memorial Day Weekend

Strawberry Recipes for Desserts

Make and take this effortless side, or get it going while your main course is on the grill or stovetop! It’s all about grilling and chilling this Memorial Day Weekend.

Whether it’s burgers, brats, ribs, or steaks, the sides are just as important as the main course when you’re planning your Memorial Day bash.

There’s lots of planning and lots of dishes to prepare. Here’s a way for you to make things just a little bit easier on yourself this year. 

Start with grilled veggies!

Any veggie will work here. My favorites are thick asparagus spears, bell peppers, red onions, zucchini and yellow squash, eggplant and portobello mushrooms. 

For the asparagus, break off the tough ends and trim. For the mushrooms remove the cap and inner gills. Slice the eggplant and red onion into ½-inch circles. Cut the squash diagonally into ½-inch ovals.

As you slice your veggies lay them onto a baking sheet. You can use parchment paper to layer everything on top of each other. Brush both sides with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now you are ready to grill.

Use an open flame or your trusty grill pan to cook each slice turning once so that you have grill marks on both sides.

Make sure you do not over-cook. You want firm veggies, not mushy ones. Remember things keep on cooking after you remove them from the heat.

Transfer the veggies from the grill to the baking sheet. You can cook these the day before your barbecue. Cool to room temperature and cover with plastic wrap. Chill ‘til you are ready to serve. 

 

how to make easy grilled veggies for memorial day

Now, here is where we get creative!

1: Layer the veggies onto a platter. Drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar. Shave thin slices of Parmesan cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.

2: Stack the veggies, beginning with eggplant and layering from largest slices to smallest. Layer in a slice or two of mozzarella cheese and add a few leaves of fresh basil on the top. Drizzle with olive oil.

3: Layer the veggies onto a platter and add slices of tomato and watermelon. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of the watermelon that are about the same size as the tomato slices. Add a sprinkling of blue cheese and drizzle with balsamic reduction.  

4: Chop the veggies into similar size pieces and stir into rice for grilled veggie pilaf.

5:  Slice the veggies into thin strips and pair them with your grilled beef or chicken for fajitas, enchiladas, or quesadillas.

The secret here is that you can grill the veggies in advance and with little effort assemble the dish while the main course is sitting on the grill. What a great plan!

Stop Food Waste With These Recipe Remixes

Stop Food Waste With These Recipe Remixes

Stop Food Waste Leftover Remix

Make Earth Day every day in your kitchen! Take the pledge to stop food waste with my best tips for reusing produce and remixing leftovers! #StopFoodWaste

Stop Food Waste Day was first introduced in 2017, and this years marks the fifth year of inspiring action around food waste reduction.

Who even knew this was a THING?  

 I discovered very early in the family kitchen that fruits and veggies lingering a little too long must be given a new lease on life! And that leftovers getting too comfortable on the fridge shelf demand an encore.

In honor of Stop Food Waste Day and the innovation and creativity in reducing one’s food waste impact, here’s Jorj’s list of what to do with leftovers.

I thank my grandma’s for the training on this one.

EGGS 

Don’t throw away left over scrambled eggs. Use them in tomorrows egg sandwich or burrito.

WAFFLES

Cut leftovers into chunks and toast them in the oven with a bit of cinnamon and sugar. Now you have waffle croutons for your ice cream dessert.

PANCAKES

Slather left over pancakes with cream cheese or peanut butter. Roll up and place into a baking dish. Douse with syrup and bake until warmed through. Pancake roll-ups for breakfast!

SALAD

Leftover salad with dressing is not as good as it is the first day, but it will work on sandwiches and subs. However, leftover everyTHING will make a great salad. Look in the back of your fridge’s veggie drawer and use those ingredients to doctor up your everyday garden salad. Carrots, fennel, radishes, cukes, peppers, cauliflower… these all work. Look into your jars too. Pickles, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives are perfect additions. Don’t forget the cheese. Salads are a perfect dish to avoid food waste!

CHEESE

I’ve written about cheese about a hundred times. But here are some highlight dishes that are perfect for your leftover cheese: grilled cheese, cheese spread, hot cheese dip, cheesy deviled eggs, cheese-filled omelets, veggies in melty cheese sauce.

NOODLES

Leftover pasta is my go-to thing for that morning-after breakfast. But left over noodles are great for reinvention. Leftover Alfredo pasta top pork cutlets and sauteed eggplant for an inspirational mid-week dish. Stuff some leftover mac ‘n cheese into your next roast beef panini sandwich. And don’t forget spaghetti pie, noodles in casseroles and pasta turned into frittatas.

CHICKEN

Besides chicken salad there’s chicken quesadilla, chicken soups, chicken casserole, chicken burritos, chicken hash, chicken pot pie…… this one’s easy.

FISH

Salmon and tuna turn into salmon and tuna salad with just a couple of additions. Other left over fish can be turned into croquettes, chowders and spring rolls.

BEEF

Leftovers work perfectly in fajitas, cheese-steak subs, stuffed peppers, open face steak sandwiches on Texas toast, quick beef stew and beef and potato hash.

PORK

Shred leftover pork and douse in barbecue sauce for a pulled pork sandwich. 

VEGGIES

I challenge you to give me ANY veggie and I will give you three ways to repurpose the leftovers. These will all revolve around soups, stews, quesadillas, cheese spreads, hot cheese dips, salads, croquettes, veggie bread puddings, veggie filled omelets, casseroles, veggies with pasta, veggie enchiladas, stuffed peppers, hash, veggie pies…. Get the idea?

DESSERTS

Whether you have leftover cake, pie or cookies you can use these to create a crispy topping for ice cream, a base for bread pudding, a fruit crumble and a layer or two for your favorite parfait.

I think you have the picture. (I also think I watch too much CHOPPED!) 

Now, let’s hear what THING you can create with your everyday leftovers.

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