Written By Trina Davis

Last year I decided I would do something I never expected to.  Now don’t go getting too excited here or start criticizing me for my stereotyping.  I just imagined it as such a stereotypical thing for a suburban mom to do.  Before I had a child, it was something I saw many of my mommy friends start doing.  I used to think, is that what happens to suburban moms?  Like it was a cult or something and only my mommy friends were invited. I know that isn’t actually true, but I just played along with my silly thoughts.  Now post motherhood, I did it too!! I was invited to join a book club…and I accepted. 

Was that a let down?  Were you expecting something more earth shattering?  If not, keep reading.  If so, keep reading. Don’t worry the food and drink toe-in is coming.  I promise!  

To me, joining a book club was very unexpected.  It meant that I was actually toying with the idea of reading a book.  Lol, that must come off sounding pretty uneducated. Oh, I have my bachelor’s degree and all that.  I read everyday, but lately I was only reading articles, parenting books, and whatever someone posted on Facebook.  I had given up the idea of actually finding time to sit and find joy in a full-length novel. So I needed this…and I did it!!   And you know what?  I absolutely love it.  It is exactly how I thought it would be, but better. A bunch of woman hanging out chatting, drinking wine while the book they came to discuss was practically an after thought. 

Don’t get me wrong.  We still have a book selected every month and maybe 20% of the women read it.  Enough to spark a conversation about the read. We still find a few minutes to discuss it, but majority of the time is of course devoted to catching up on all our busy lives.  I’m sure there are many book clubs that take the book review and discussion part more seriously.  Much respect to them. Actually, I have to say last year I just read more books in general after joining the club.  Those books however, were usually not book club picks.  Don’t ask me why.  So I found joining the club to be a positive force in my life all the way around. 

This year I have decided to take it more seriously.  Come for the wine and food with a side of fun gossip, but actually read the book as well. Whoa!! I know, crazy right??  So we are in the month of August and I’m proud to say that I am on book #4.  Almost done too! This has to be a record for me post motherhood.  I doubt I will read twelve books this year, but don’t give up on me just yet. By the way, it turns out that I prefer the hard copy in comparison to digital copy.  I just love turning pages and holding a book. 

This month I’m hosting book club at my house.  All the members happen to be mothers (so the club comes alive post dinner/bath bed time for the kiddos). My hubby usually heads out with our child, or has a movie night for him in another part of the house.  I run around like a mad women hiding all toys and knick- knacks under cushions, in closets, and in the cupboard.  Sure these women know that I have a child, I know they don’t expect me to have a clean house.  But at certain times in my life, I like to pretend I’m kid free and getting my home ready for an adult gathering.  I like to turn on some jazz, light up the fireplace, and have a cocktail or two (dare I say three). I am going to host an evening with friends like an ADULT!  Damn!! lol

In general the woman who is hosting supplies all the food and drink, but the other members can bring something to contribute if they want.  I think that is why I love this group of women.  They are so much fun to hang with, there is no pressure to read the book of the month, and the host takes care of the food.  The ladies start arriving around 7:30 pm. It’s a tricky time. Some of us have eaten dinner with our families, while others are barely getting there after work.  It’s always nice to serve something more than just your off-the-shelf cheese and fruit platter.  This way you can feed the nibblers and satisfy the tummies of those who want just a bit more.  Be sure to always have bottles of red and white open and ready.  That is not an option. 😉

For tonight’s book club, I have decided to create my super deluxe cheese platter.  It is always fun and different.   I like to include two types of cheeses (soft and hard), a preserve (I tend to go with fig), one type of cracker that can stand up to the cheese, some nuts and dried and fresh fruit.  I also usually create a tiny dessert platter with my favorite chocolates, store bought fudge and yummy cookies.  I leave it to you and your foodie imagination to come up with a fun and delicious cheese and dessert tray.  I trust you!  Just serving this might be fine, but why not add something special and fun?   As I said earlier, I want to make sure the ladies coming straight from work, or those who missed dinner, have something else to satisfy their palettes. 

I decided to make my yummy but super Simple Cucumber Crab Cups and my Delicious Pear Salad Bites.  I have not made these in years. I first made these babies when my then boyfriend (now husband) and I hosted quite a large Christmas party.  I still remember that night quite well.  We were dating for about 2.5 years. My girlfriends convinced me that he had marriage on his mind and was going to propose to me that night.  I, like a giddy fool, ran out to get a manicure just minutes before the party started.  He, of course, did not understand what his nutty girlfriend was doing at a nail salon while guests were arriving.  Is that not normal?  Umm…he did not propose that night.  I still had a super fun time and these little bites were a hit with all the guests.   If you are wondering,  he did propose a few weeks later when I was least expecting it on a trip to Sedona, AZ.   The sneaky devil! 

Lets get started.  I got some mouths to feed and books to pretend to discuss.

Crab Avocado Cucumber Cups

  • 2 long English cucumbers
  • 1 cup canned lump crab meat (If you can’t get Phillips, try Chicken of the Sea)
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  • 1 tsp. toasted white sesame seeds
  • ½ ripe avocado
  • ½ lime
  • Shaved bonito/seaweed flakes (optional)

Cut cucumber into 1 inch slices or slightly bigger. Using a melon baller or small spoon, scoop out the inside, being careful not to scoop through the bottom. You want to leave the walls and a thick portion of the bottom intact.  It should look like a tiny cup when done. 

In a bowl, fold together the crabmeat, mayonnaise, and sesame seeds along with the Sriracha until its evenly mixed.  Set aside.  Mash up the avocado, and squeeze the juice of ½ lime.  Mix well.  Fill each cucumber cup with the avocado mixture until it’s leveled at the top.  Then add about a tablespoon of the crab mixture and refrigerate until ready to serve.  I found shaved bonito/ seaweed flakes at my local Japanese market, so I sprinkled a bit on top of the crab right before I served it.  If you can’t find this anywhere, you can even top it off with some more sesame seeds or maybe even black sesame seeds which are easier to find.  It gives it more depth and texture.  And that is it!!  So easy right??   If you have extra crab mixture left, top the other half of the avocado with it and have it for lunch the next day.   Who doesn’t love crab and avocado together?

Next up is my pear salad bites.  What I love about these is that you can change them up into so many combinations.   I have always been a big fan of the pear and blue cheese salads, so that is where I got this idea.  But I can see it being done with apples, persimmons, peaches…etc.  You can change up the nuts, cheeses, greens, meats etc.  Just have fun. 

 

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Pear Salad Bites

  • 1 large Bartlett pear sliced thinly
  • Slice of lemon.
  • 1 cup of salad greens of your choice (I prefer to use mostly arugula and a darker green for contrast)
  • ¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • ½ cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts
  • Strips of thinly cut prosciutto (keep the strips long but skinny)
  • ¼ cup Balsamic Syrup

I like to set up a station first with the pears, followed by the cheese, nuts, greens and lastly the prosciutto.  Have a large platter ready so you can plate the bites when done.  This looks the prettiest on a clean simple white platter, but any platter will work of course. 

First put all the pear slices in a bowl and squeeze the juice from the sliced lemon on to the pear and mix.  This will keep the pear from turning brown.  Grab a slice of pear, take a crumble of cheese and gently smash it on the pear.  Take one piece of hazelnut and mush it onto the cheese.  Almost as if you are trying to glue it to the cheese.  It should hold.  Grab a few pieces of small leafy greens and set it on top of the pair.  Take 1 slice of the prosciutto and start wrapping the pear.  Keep going around until you have wrapped the entire pear.  The leaves should be sticking out, almost like a tiny planter.  Lay each slice on the platter side by side.  When you have wrapped all the pear slices, it look should like a beautiful garden.  You can refrigerate the pears at this point if serving later.  When you are ready to serve, drizzle the pears with the reduced balsamic dressing and sprinkle with some more toasted nuts.   Finding reduced balsamic dressing at your local store is pretty easy these days.  If you can’t find it or don’t have it, just take a cup of aged balsamic vinegar and heat it over medium/low hit in a small saucepan. Let it go until it reduces to a very syrupy texture.  Let it cool completely before you drizzle and you can save the rest for something else.  It is great over strawberries, Brussels sprouts, grilled veggies etc.  The list goes on. 

These are such easy dishes to make beforehand, so you have time to get the house ready and relax with your friends.  If you are wondering what book we are going to discuss tonight, it is called Eleanor and Park by author Rainbow Rowell.  Truth be told, it is a young love romance.  A very sweet and light read.  It took me back to my awkward high school days.  I actually think Eleanor got more action than me. Ha! This was a fun, easy read.  It was much needed after our last read about losing a dog to cancer.  It was a bit of a heavy subject for a dog lover like me who found it all too relatable.   So this easy read was a welcome edition in August.  Enjoy the rest of your month.  Time is flying and summer is almost over.  See you again in September to find out what fun concoctions will be dancing around in Trina’s Tummy.  Happy August my friends and I hope I have inspired you to lose yourself in a novel or two this year.  xo