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.

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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

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What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating

Welcome to my Super Supper Book Club where we merge a book club with a supper club for an evening with friends that combines food and thought (with a few gossipy moments interspersed!)

On the 3rd Monday of each month, I’ll give you a summary of a book I’ve read and really enjoyed. I’ll also give you a supper club menu with recipes that are built around the theme of the book. You assemble your friends, give them the book title and dole out the recipes so that everyone brings a dish to the party.

While you’re discussing and dining, snap a picture of your event. Post the pic to my Facebook/Instagram pages and enter to win a cookbook for your next dinner party. Sounds like some FUN, yes?!

Here’s my first pick for 2020: The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger

Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents, as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate.

I loved The Gifted School’s relevance to today’s headlines. It was dark but hilarious! I urge you to listen to the podcast, Gangster Capitalism once you’ve read the book. Listening to it is sure to spark even more conversation for your book discussion.

I already cooked up some conversation starters for The Gifted School

  • What is the higher education endgame when parents have to compete for quality daycare placement for their babies?
  • Who is in competition, the child or the parent?
  • What games are played in the name of educational opportunity?

My inspiration for The Gifted School Super Supper Book Club menu is school lunch. Not the school lunch of our childhood experience. You remember sliding those compartmentalized trays down the waist-high counter in the cafeteria while those sweet kitchen ladies doled out scoops of mac ‘n cheese and spoonful’s of mushed veggies, don’t you?

This menu might find its way to a gifted school dining table. Watch out for the competitive members of your club. Afterall, there is no special school placement or award for the best prepared dish…. or is there?

Super Supper Book Club Menu

A Gifted School

Kale Salad with Strawberries with Goat Cheese and a Nutty Topper

Canvas and Cuisine page 111

Veggie-Filled Meatloaf Muffins

Sunday Best Dishes page 87

Mac ‘N Cheese “n Peas

Sunday Best Dishes page 85

Saucy Succotash

Recipe follows

Favorite Fruit Crumble

Canvas and Cuisine page 340

Saucy Succotash

This is an excellent side veggie that goes with most everything. For a full-on veggie meal, serve the succotash over a baked sweet potato with a drizzle of maple syrup over the top!

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium zucchini, sliced, about 2 cups

1 large red onion, peeled and diced, about 1 cup

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded, veins removed, diced, about ½ cup

1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn, thawed

1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed

1 (10-ounce) package frozen lima beans, thawed

1 (10-ounce) package frozen okra, thawed

1 whole marinated roasted red pepper, diced, about ½ cup

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon Creole seasoning

1 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce

½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Heat the butter and the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the zucchini, onion and jalapeno pepper and cook until soft. Stir in the remaining veggies. Pour in the tomatoes. Season with Worcestershire, Creole seasoning, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes.