Monday, November 2, 2009

Tales of Thanksgiving Food and Friendship By Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

Tales of Thanksgiving Food and Friendship
By Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel,
Authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

For some people, Thanksgiving evokes warm feelings triggered by 
memories of a close-knit family gathering, where relatives share 
traditions and a home-cooked meal.

For others . . . it's the beginning of a holiday season stuffed with 
lunatic relatives, family dysfunction, bitter recriminations, and 

We heard a wide range of Thanksgiving Tales this year while traveling 
around the country for our Recipe Clubs. Inspired by the plot and 
structure of our book, Recipe Clubs are storytelling and friendship 
circles in which women gather to share true-life food-related stories 
along with recipes. Recipe Clubs are not about cooking; they're about 
creating community and fostering friendship . . . they're about 
laughing and crying . . . they're about honoring our own lives and the 
lives of others. They show us how the simplest, sweetest, or funniest 
tales about food can turn into deep revelations about our lives.

Just about everybody has at least one quintessential Thanksgiving food 
memory that perfectly captures the complicated feelings surrounding 
the holiday. Here are some of our favorites:

One Recipe Club friend recalls the first time she ever cooked a 
Thanksgiving meal on her own. Her mother, who traditionally did the 
meal, was recovering from surgery. Her father was working. And her 
sister was flying in just in time for the meal, but not early enough 
to help cook.

So our friend rose to the challenge, proclaiming that she would do the 
entire meal, on her own. No problem -- until reality set in. She woke 
at dawn, shopped, chopped, and soon realized her oven was half the 
size it needed to be. By the time the turkey wanted basting the 
chestnut stuffing required baking -- and the brussel sprouts were 
definitely not cleaning themselves!

But things really went south when it came time prepare her 
grandmother's famous pumpkin pie. This was the pie recipe that had 
been handed down through generations. If it didn't come out perfectly, 
our friend knew she'd feel like a failure.

Of course, nothing went right. The pie crust was too wet, then too 
dry. There was too much nutmeg, not enough ginger. With every crimp of 
the dough her head swam with the imagined voice of her southern 
grandmother: "A woman is judged not just by who she is, but by what 
she can bring to the table."

When the pie came out of the oven, the crust was too brown, and there 
was a giant crack running down the middle of the filling. Our friend 
fought back tears, took a deep breath, and set the pie out to cool, 
knowing more clearly than ever that neither it -- nor she -- was, or 
would ever be, perfect.

But when it came time for everyone to gather at the table, something 
shifted. Her parents and sister praised her hard work and loved the 
meal. And our friend realized she had somehow been carried on the 
wings of the generations of women who had cooked before her, without 
complaining, to serve a Thanksgiving meal to their family. She felt 
truly thankful for all the work that her mother, grandmother, aunts -- 
indeed all the women she'd known through her life -- had accomplished 
each holiday. Triumphant, connected, and happy, she understood that 
food cooked with love is its own kind of perfection.

One Recipe Club friend recalled her first Thanksgiving after her 

Since carving the bird had always been her ex-husband's job, she 
delighted in finding a new, turkey-free recipe. She settled on an 
apricot-glazed ham, and went to work cooking a glaze of brown sugar, 
cloves, and apricot nectar (an ingredient that gave her extra pleasure 
knowing her ex-husband detested it.)

When her grown children came for dinner, they were childishly upset 
not to have their usual 12-pound bird. But it was delicious, and in 
the end each one complimented the chef. On her way out, the youngest 
daughter told her mother, "maybe we all need to learn how to 
gracefully accept change."

For this new divorcee, serving ham became a way of asserting her 
independence, showing her children there was life after marriage, and 
teaching the whole family to find new ways to be together.

The truth is, we don't pick our relatives. So if the Thanksgiving 
gathering of the clan is an annual emotional challenge, you aren't 

In a recent Recipe Club circle of old friends and new acquaintances, 
we met a woman who admitted that for most of her life she dreaded 
Thanksgiving; all it evoked for her were memories of family fights. 
The contrast of what she knew Thanksgiving was "supposed" to be, 
versus what it was in her home, always made her feel ashamed and 
disappointed. And yet every November she felt compelled go home for a 
family Thanksgiving meal.

But one year, that changed, when her parents and brother decided to 
have Thanksgiving away from home. They journeyed together to 
Nantucket, where they ate dinner at a seaside inn. The inn served a 
New England clam chowder, rich with cream and warm on a cold autumn 
night. And they discovered that a new location, with new foods, away 
from the house where memories were often more fiery than the jalepeno 
cornbread, turned out to be just what the family needed.

Now, every year, back at home, they have a new tradition: serving New 
England Clam Chowder at their Thanksgiving feasts, each spoonful 
bringing back fond memories of a peaceful and loving family holiday.

Finally, a little tale of food and friendship.

A reader of our book told us that she had a choice this year. She 
could invite Uncle Tim and Aunt Zoe, the way she does every year, and 
spend the entire holiday worrying about whether or not the perpetually 
complaining couple were happy. She could include cousins Beth and 
Sean, knowing they would be competitive, putting down her choice of 
food, her way of cooking, her table setting. She could extend an 
invitation to her brother and dreaded sister-in-law, who would sit in 
silence the entire meal and pick at the food.

Or . . . she could shake things up and do something entirely 
different: invite only friends. True friends. People she enjoyed being 
with. Who made her laugh. Who spoke truthfully. Who shared her 
passions for good books, good wine, and good music.

She took the leap. She dumped the whiners, broke with tradition, 
irritated several family members -- and never looked back. The moral: 
good food and good friends are the perfect combination. Sometimes it's 
a good idea to trim the guest list before you serve the bird with all 
its trimmings.

©2009 Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel, authors of The Recipe Club: A 
Tale of Food and Friendship

Author Bios for The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Andrea Israel is a producer/writer for ABC's Focus Earth. She was a 
producer/writer on Anderson Cooper 360, Dateline, and Good Morning 
America (which garnered her an Emmy Award). Her story In Donald's Eyes 
was recently optioned for a film. Ms. Israel is the author of Taking 
Tea. Her writing has appeared in many publications.

Nancy Garfinkel is co-author of The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine 
Country: The Best of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino(Chronicle Books, 
2005). A creative strategist, design consultant, writer, and editor 
for magazine, corporate, and non-profit clients, she has won a host of 
graphic arts and editorial merit awards. She has written extensively 
about food and graphic arts.

For more information please visit

Review: Purity in Death by J.D. Robb

Purity in Death (In Death #15) Purity in Death by J.D. Robb

My rating: 4.0/5.0

About the book:

Eve Dallas must face the impossible: someone has unleashed a computer virus that may be able to spread from machine to man.
 My Review:

Another wonderful installment in the Eve and Roarke series by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts).  It's been a little while between reads, but I always feel like I'm catching up with old friends when I come back to this series.  I'm still working my way through it for the first time, trying to catch up, yet not trying that hard because then I'll have to wait until a new book releases.

I have been listening to these on audio from Audible and actually purchased the next two on audio also.  The reader is magnificient.  I love her different voices for the different characters and her Roarke accent is amazing.  It's truly a joy to listen to and I can't wait to finish my current audio to get back to this series.

This book finds Eve matching wits against a group calling themselves The Purity Seekers.  It's a group bent on righting the wrongs of the judicial system.  They are punishing the ones that got away.  Eve feels strongly about this since she is a police officer and she is supposed to get crime off the street, not allow vigilante justice.  So she works hard as usual to find the perpetrators of this crime.  With Roarke and her usual crew of Feeney, McNabb, and Peabody, Eve works around the clock to find out what is going on. 

Great interplay between the characters in this one.  Mavis only makes a brief appearance, but it's a memorable one.  Eve deals with demons, Peabody and McNabb are just Peabody and McNabb, Roarke is as hot as ever, and Eve and Roarke are just amazing together.  I always get sentimental when I read or listen to this series.  It just seems to make me appreciate having a good man for a husband.

So if you want a book with suspense that keeps you hanging on until the end, this is a book for you.

If you're just starting the series, it doesn't really matter - you lose some of the backstory, but each book stands on it's own with a case being solved and enough backstory is brought in so you are not lost.

100+ Book Challenge
Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009
Countdown Challenge 2010

Review: Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish by Shana Liebman

Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection Sex, Drugs & Gefilte Fish: The Heeb Storytelling Collection by Shana Liebman

My rating: 3.75/5.0

I received this from Brianne Beers at Hachette Book Group, and I will be announcing my giveaway winners later today.

A very interesting collection of essays. Some were a little too much for me (vulgar, drug use) but no matter what I never put the book down. Because for every story that wasn't me - there were at least 4 or 5 that were. I think that's what is great about story collections like these - there are some that appeal to everyone and some that appeal to certain types of people, making it a very readable book to everyone.

I laughed with this one, sympathized with the writers and hit my head in amazement. It was a very entertaining read. I would sit down to read one or two and end up reading nine or ten of the stories. It was hard to put down because I wanted to know what the next person would write about.

So, in the end - it's a very enjoyable storytelling collection. There is a bit of vulgarity throughout, but overall enjoyable. There are people from all walks of life in this and something for everyone to relate to. And to tell the truth - it's a just plain entertaining book.

100+ Book Challenge

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009

What Are You Reading Monday - November 2

Come post weekly and see what others are reading too just so you can add to your tbr - I always do! For more information see J.Kaye's Book Blog and join in!

Books Completed Last Week:

  • Always Watching by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins (library)
  • Purity in Death by J.D. Robb (audiobook)
  • Last Breath by Brandilyn and Amberly Collins (review)
  • Jack's Dreams Come to Life by Sara Jackson (childrens book, review)
  • Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish: A Heebe Storytelling Collection (review)
  • The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate (review)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (library)
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale (library)
Reading Now:
  • Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough (review)
  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis (audiobook with DS)
  • Sole Survivor by Dean Koontz (audiobook)
  • The Clique by Lisi Harrison (library)
  • The Sugarless Plum by (review)
Reviews Completed Last Week
  • Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (library)
  • Dune Road by Jane Green (library)
  • Love Your Body, Love Your Life by (review)
  • Across the Endless River by (review)
Reviews to do:
  • Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
  • Purity in Death by J.D. Robb (audiobook)
  • Sex, Drugs and Gefilte Fish: A Heebe Storytelling Collection
  • The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove by Lauren Kate (review)
  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (library)
  • Austenland by Shannon Hale (library)
  • Only In Your Dreams by Cecily von Ziegesar
  • Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
  • Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Relentless by Dean Koontz
  • Hunted by P.C. and Kristin Cast
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • True Colors by Kristen Hannah

Summary -

From my ratings you can see it was a good reading week for me.  I don't know if I was just in a really good mood or what.  No the truth is I read some really wonderful books this week.  Everything was pretty much a winner and something I would recommend to others.  I'm still plugging away on catching up reviews.  I only have a few more recent October books to review and then finish up my September reviews.  I am doing a better job at keeping up and I'm thrilled with that.

New Jesus Movement Movie - Jesus No Greater Love

The Jesus Movie for

the Next Generation

Guest post by Bruce Marchiano, producer of Jesus...No Greater Love

The truth of the gospel never changes. But Christianity has many faces. They reflect the customs and cultures and the beautiful diversity of the global church. They are lined with the wisdom of age and vibrant with the passion of youth. One gospel for all the world…but how will we deliver it in a way that reaches the whole world? How will we reach the next generation?

Young Christians today are more like St. Francis of Assisi than a circuit riding preacher. “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” This is a generation focused on being the hands and feet of Christ and meeting the physical needs of those in both the local and global community. They are building houses, planting gardens, taking food and clothes to the poor and helping the widows and orphans… and then they are sharing the gospel. And they are using technology like never before. They communicate the message through audio, film, video and the internet, and they strive for excellence within those mediums. They must. This is how they will reach their generation for Christ.

I share their passion. In the film, The Gospel According to Matthew, we were able to capture the heart of Christ that is so often missing in Christian films, but the quality of the film making was constrained by an $800,000 budget. Now we are inspiring a movement that will bring Jesus to film in a version that literally leaps off the screen and into the hearts of viewers.

Jesus…No Greater Love, the new Jesus movie, ( will be a word for word, verse by verse film adaption of the Gospel according to John. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That’s really our concept, that the gospel would go out in the power of the film medium, unaltered by any human script writer.

The budget for a typical Hollywood production is $100-110 million. Actors’ salaries account for much of that cost. Because the new Jesus movie will be not be paying big name actors, our team believes we can produce a world class, state-of-the-art film incorporating the latest cutting-edge technology for just $45 million. The production will be shot on location in Jerusalem and shot digitally using CGI backgrounds and a green screen stage, providing unlimited potential for sharing the gospel for generations to come.

We are inviting people from all nations and all generations to join this movement to bring the gospel to all people. A movement made of 4.5 million people contributing a tax deductible donation of $10 each would fund the cost of the film. The Gospel belongs to everyone, and the new Jesus movie will be produced expressly so it can be accessed by everyone, no matter their financial situation. Our team's vision is to see the film translated into as many languages as possible and supplied to mission organizations and churches all over the world.

You can become a part of the movement to reach the next generation. Please help us spread the word to your friends and family. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so at

Also, you can keep up with our progress by visiting any of these links:


Bruce Marchiano is an actor, author, international speaker, and the founder of Marchiano Ministries, a non-profit organization reaching out to people both spiritually and practically in the USA and across the world. He is best known for his joyful, passionate portrayal of Jesus in the film, The Gospel According to Matthew.