Thursday, January 23, 2014

Book Club Book + Salad recipe

We recently gathered together on a snowy Monday night and discussed Flight Behavior (2012) by one of my favorite writers, Barbara Kingsolver.  Our book club was whittled down to just a hardy few as the weather had taken a turn for the worse mid-afternoon.  I braved the cold and the icy roads just to talk about this book but also because I'd made an amazing salad to share.  We go potluck at these gatherings and I hadn't been the only one thinking salad or healthy.  We shared a brussels sprout salad, a beet salad, a delicious spinach dip, and a light-tasting 5-flavor pound cake. Our plates were pretty as we sat to discuss the book.

Flight Behavior follows Dellarobia Turnbow as she picks her way through her unhappy marriage. One of the symptoms of her sadness is to seek out small-time crush-worthy men in her rural Tennessee community.  At the opening she is headed into the woods to meet up with her latest crush, the telephone man, to see if they want to take things one step further.  On the way up the mountain that sits right on her family's property to meet him she stops to breathe and is overwhelmed by a phenomena~she can't tell if it is fire but something strange has the mountain top trees all lit up.  This oddity gives her pause to change her mind and head back down the mountain away from the sin she was thinking of committing.

Dellarobia is a fascinating character that grows immensely during the course of her story.  Kingsolver truly is a master storyteller weaving an array of unique characters into a timely and thought-provoking event.  What Dellarobia glimpsed on the mountaintop was Monarch butterflies all come to roost on her husband's land.  The migration of this butterfly swoops through Mexico every year for thousands of years and this year they didn't make it there.

Today on this bitterly cold day I'm not going to make a crack about how global warming can't be true as it is freezing outside!  We are by our very existence altering the course of our earth by the products we use, clear-cutting whole mountaintops of trees, car emissions, food production, energy, and coal plants. It is taking a toll on our home; our world and this fact comes home to roost for Dellarobia as she watches and learns more about this magnificent butterfly.

I loved the climate conversation this book brings to light but on a more simple note Dellarobia's relationship with her children takes on a magical quality for me. She begins as a mother who is pained by her son Preston's constant questioning of the universe, making her slip out the back door for a "secret" smoke.  She loves her children at all stages throughout but her appreciation for their natural childish qualities readjusts Dellarobia's thinking.  As the butterflies transform her and remind her of what she can still be she emerges as a mother who stokes her own son's curiosity fueling it with thoughts, theories, and books to pour over.  Dellarobia looks at even the little Cordelia, still in diapers, with new and glowing eyes.  Hope has sprung and Dellarobia sees a future for her children and herself.

The book is breath-taking and yet I have other Kingsolver stories that I love more-that's how talented she is.   Read NPR's review.

The salad:
adapted from Yoga Journal (Feb. 2014)

Feel-Good Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup quinoa
1/2 head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup dried tart cherries (expensive-could substitute dried cranberries)
1/4 cup pistachios (shelled, of course)
3 T fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1. Put quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse well under cold water.  In a saucepan, bring two cups of water to a boil over high heat.  Add quinoa, and reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until grains are tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork to separate grains.

2. Add radicchio, vinegar, olive oil, cherries, pistachios, and parsley to bowl, and stir to mix well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Delicious!

I made a double batch for book club because we have twelve members and since only half of them showed up I had half a bowl left for lunch during the week.  My husband tried it and loved it also.

from Yoga Journal "with melatonin-rich dried cherries, pistachios, which contain B-6, and protein-rich quinoa, this easy weeknight pilaf has nutreints to help you sleep soundly, keep your memory sharp, and maintain healthy muscles."

Book + Salad = healthy humans
Have a peaceful day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing. I enjoyed also very much this book, the salad sounds delicious, I love cooking with quinoa