I resisted joining a book club for many years. I've been asked a few times by different people, but I've always come up with an excuse not to. It hasn't been for lack of time, or even for lack of want. It's more that I'm a big fat book dork, and I know it. While I often don't have a preference on, say, what country I might live in or what restaurant we might go to for dinner, the one thing I do have an opinion on is books. They're kinda my thing. I always imagined book club to involve having to read books I hate and pretending I like them. Like college.
The move to Pleasantville coincided with my first joining book club. P, who's married to L's BFF from since they were in diapers (fine, Underoos), asked me to join, and I finally felt ready. A woman in her thirties joins book club, right? But I have to admit I was a little nervous, considering I think The Book Thief is one of the most overrated books of the last several years. (Blasphemy, I know!) I was pretty sure I was going to offend this nice group of women with my first rip on Barbara Kingsolver. And God forbid they did not share my love of Jonathan Safran Foer. GOD FORBID.
Three years have passed, and I haven't missed a single book club meeting since joining, not even when AB was three weeks old and I was sure I was going to bleed to death through my nipples. Book club is once a month sanity for me, a reminder that I do still have the ability to speak intelligently about books even though I'm not teaching anymore. When I'm not pregnant (which has been only a small percentage of the time in the last three years), it's a great excuse for multiple glasses of wine on a Wednesday night. But most importantly, it's a chance to get together with thoughtful, smart women, and do what we do best- talk. And eat. And drink. (The stereotypes are true.)
Anyway, last week I hosted. Usually the host has chosen the book, but in this case the book was chosen by P, called It's All About the Dress. It's a memoir written by Vicky Tiel, who apparently is a big time fashion designer and invented the mini-skirt. To know me is to know that A), I know nothing about fashion, and B), I care nothing about fashion. But I have to admit that I enjoyed reading about life through this woman's extraordinarily rose-colored glasses. The word 'orgy' appears several times, which always makes for interesting reading. And in the middle of her stories about Elizabeth Taylor, Warren Beatty, and Woody Allen, were random recipes she picked up during her very charmed life. Perfect!
The recipes included a pink tuna salad (dud), a simple vinaigrette (okay), and Fettucine Alfredo (good, but definitely not for the woman in her thirties watching her waistline). But the real winner to me was Vicky's friend Lisa's Dartois, which is a French apple pie. Here you are, modified by yours truly, for your eating pleasure:
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 stick unsalted butter (cold, but not super cold)
3 large apples (cored and cut into small chunks)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Mix flour, sugar, butter, and egg with your hands until it's in a big sticky ball.
3. Sprinkle some flour on the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish. Take half of the dough and cover the bottom and sides of the pan. No need for a rolling pin-- just use your hands. Don't worry about making it pretty.
4. Add apple chunks and sprinkle with cinnamon.
5. Flatten the rest of the dough into little pieces and cover the apples with it. Again, don't worry about making it neat. It will all bake and mush together.
6. Sprinkle more cinnamon on top and bake about 45 min, until the top is lightly brown.
When it comes out it's all apple-crumbly and delicious. And it seriously took about 20 min to put together. I served it with ice cream. Fab!
Thanks, Vicky Tiel! I never would have read your book if it hadn't been for book club, but I'm glad I did. Now if only you could send some of those Hollywood connections my way... I've got this book idea, see, and...