Thursday, April 15, 2010

best book club ever...and cucumber salad?

so last night was our monthly book club meeting. i have told you before about this wonderful group of amazing women...writers, marketers, chefs, bloggers, artists and entrepreneurs. we get together to eat, drink, laugh, catch-up and...believe it or not...discuss the book selection.

this month's pick was "the elegance of the hedgehog" by muriel barbery. have you read it? what a beautiful story...and so hard to describe. the book is translated to english from french...and is filled with some of the most lovely, heartfelt and moving passages i have encountered in a long time. an example...
"from one of the apartments wafts a melody, clearly, joyfully, distinct. Someone is playing a classical piece on the piano. Ah, sweet, impromptu moment, lifting the veil of melancholy...In a split second of eternity, everything is changed, transfigured. A few bars of music, rising from an unfamiliar piece, a touch of perfection in the flow of human dealings."

what a beautiful way to describe how music can make you feel....

so i started to describe the book for you...but it is just too complex to try to reduce to a few lines...it would take the entire post...and i would rather tell you about book club. just get the book...it is worth the read...a bit hard to get into...but then you are hooked....now...back to our book club.

my friend ann posted some photos of our meeting on facebook. she started a photo album after our first meeting and i had the chance to review the entire album this morning....a year of memories...spring in gardens...summer poolside...fall celebrating harvest...and our holiday meeting in front of a beautiful christmas tree. we rotate homes monthly...and the menu is usually inspired by the book we read. i realized just how much i appreciate this group of smart, funny, creative and beautiful (inside and out) women. ann, brooke, ashley, caitlin, rachelle, laura, julie...what a gift!
do you belong to a group or club celebrating an interest, hobby or passion of yours? if so...you probably already know how important this is...if not...join something! you will be so glad you did.
this month's book featured a cast of characters who adored sushi...so...sushi it was. ann picked up a delicious assortment from a wonderful restaurant...(plenty of veggie options for the vegetarians in the crowd)...and the main dish was accompanied by a seaweed salad, a vegetable/tofu noodle dish, tuna/cucumber appetizers and plenty of sake. i brought an asian cucumber salad and...just because i felt like it...nothing to do with the book....strawberry crisp.

the food was really good...sake really fun...but more important was the conversation. we modestly refer to our group as the "best book club ever"....hyperbole? maybe....but we think it is true...
so here is the recipe for the cucumber salad...really good year-round...but especially perfect during hot summer months...so cold and refreshing...and the easiest salad recipe you will find...use leftovers on sandwiches the next day...or chop into small pieces are serve with grilled fish.....
use the freshest, organic cucumbers you can find...with something this simple, truly a case of "the ingredients really do matter"

cucumber & chilies salad
(serves 8)ingredients
2 large organic cucumbers
coarse kosher salt
2 jalapeño chilies
1 red chili
1/3 cup organic seasoned rice vinegar
3 tsp organic sugar

thinly slice cucumber and place in a colander. sprinkle with the kosher salt. let sit for 30 minutes and then rinse thoroughly with cold water. pat dry and arrange 1/2 of cucumber on a platter. seed and remove membranes from jalapeño and red chilies. cut peppers in half lengthwise and then very thinly slice. sprinkle 1/2 of sliced chilies on top of platter of cucumbers. cover with the remaining cukes and arrange remaining chilies on top. place vinegar and sugar in small bowl and whisk together until sugar is dissolved. pour dressing over cucumbers, cover platter with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour. serve really cold.
let me leave you with one final passage from the book...my favorite... i have shared many stories with you of my post corporate life...and how i have never been happier, healthier or more content...murial barbery gets it...

"Personally, I think there is only one thing to do: find the task we have been placed on this earth to do, and accomplish it as best we can, with all our strength, without making things complicated or thinking there's anything divine about our animal nature . This is the only way we will ever feel that we have been doing something constructive when death comes to get us".

have a good week...and you will have to read the book to understand why there are so many photos of my camellia bushes in this post..... here's to "finding the task we have been put on this earth to do!!"

best,
diane

diane padoven
founder/president
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
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10 comments:

simpledaisy said...

I have never been involved in a book club!!! Sounds like a lot of fun though:)
That cucumber salad looks fabulous!!! I love cucumbers but never thought to pair them with chilies....fennel, yes....chilies, no!
I will have to give it a whirl~

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi simple daisy! thanks for the comment...the cucumbers with chili salad is really nice..let me know if you try it...

btw..i just looked at your blog...beautiful...i share your passion for the beach! i grew up is southern california...practicially lived on the sand...and am never more peaceful than when i return to a beach...any beach...

pls keep in touch!

diane

Waverly said...

Getting together regularly with groups of friends is so good for the soul.
P.S. Your cucumber salad looks delicious.

Brooke said...

As a fellow book clubber who went back for seconds and then thirds, I can testify that that salad was every bit as good and refreshing as it looks in the photograph.

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi waverly,
good for the heart...good for the soul!
thanks for commenting!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

brooke :) :)
thanks for the endorsement! (although i am pretty addicted to the seaweed salad too)

looking forward to next meeting at your place....

dp

Jess said...

The cucumbers look delicious. The photographs of the flowers are very beautiful.

Jess

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

wow jess! thank you

Ragna said...

What a great salad...I am a cucumber lover! I'd love to join a book club too!

napa farmhouse 1885 said...

hi ragna...start one! you will be so glad you did...