What’s Been Happening Around Here

The last time we got together

for a book discussion we had read Traveling in Southern France which I wrote a little about here.

I mentioned that an old time (not OLD old) member had moved away and we had a new baby.  Unfortunately for us, Amanda had the baby and she’s the one who moved away, so we no longer have Amanda or a baby!

Dianne's newest grandbaby

Dianne’s newest grandbaby

Amanda and baby at yoga class

Amanda and baby at yoga class

Amanda happens to be Dianne’s daughter

so baby Eva is Dianne’s most recent granddaughter!  All will soon be fine again because Brianne is expecting—so more babies (baby I mean).

Now Dianne has stayed busy.  Right before she went to visit and took the photos above we met at the Highlands Tavern in Denver for her 60th birthday celebration!

No book to discuss--just birthday lunch and cake to eat

No book to discuss–just birthday lunch and cake to eat

You can’t see it down there on the end (by Dianne on the left)

but…..

Jean baked a scratch cake AND it was chocolate.

It was so delicious that after we sent the waitress back to the kitchen with a piece she came back and copied Jean’s phone number so she could get the recipe.  That adorable girl on the right is not in book club but we were thrilled to have her join us; she’s a budding entrepreneur and told us all about plans to expand her mom Laura’s (front left) gluten free bakery business.

Celeste gets out to lunch where she won't have to clean up after all of us!

Celeste gets out to lunch where she won’t have to clean up after all of us!

Here are Celeste (L) and Dianne (R) –aren’t they gorgeous?  How old/young is your book club?  Do you have any babies around?

Jean’s High Altitude Chocolate Cake

Quick, Moist Chocolate Cake/ High Altitude Recipe
From Mrs. Haney of North Denver, mother of 10  (1980’s)

2 c. flour
1 3/4 c.  sugar
2 tsp. soda (or slight bit less)
1/4 or 1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. oil
1 c. buttermilk  (can make your own by putting about 3 tbsp. lemon juice
or vinegar in 2% or whole or even skim milk–let sit 4 minutes)
2 eggs (or 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white)
1 c. boiling water
1/2 c. baking cocoa
——————————————-
Mix and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes in a 9 X 12 greased and floured baking pan.
(Batter may seem thinner than other cake batters with the water and oil, but it comes out great!)
——————————————-
The Denver Post had a similar recipe in 1990, and added the following baking variations:
bake 2  9-inch round pans in 375 oven 30 minutes,    OR  cupcakes for 20 minutes.

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A Night in Provence–Twice

We are a book club that reads Catholic Women Authors.  Read more about it here.

Two Months, One Book and One Essay

We were meant to gather in September and discuss A Traveller in Southern France by Christine Kaferly while eating Provencial cuisine.  We got off track though when some of us didn’t pick up the book in time and others were already finishing it up.  So Celeste recommended a superb article by pro-life activist Juli Wiley, titled “Jesus’ Genealogy: The Woman Problem.”

October 2013

October 2013

Plenty of French Food

Nevertheless when we arrived at book club in September many were prepared to discuss A Traveller and had fixed up some yummy French food.

When we assembled again in October to finally talk about the book lo and behold we ended up with plenty of dishes from the south of France.

I'm sauteing some Spinach

I’m sauteing some Spinach

Laurence and Gwen cook it up

Laurence and Gwen cook it up

Laurence's Leek Soup

Laurence’s Leek Soup

It was all extremely good and nobody minded.  Laurence grew up in France and made us an Eggplant Souffle and Leek Soup respectively.  I took the fresh vegetable route and cooked up some spinach and garlic that I topped with crumbled goat cheese.

Since I have a lot of time to make up for I’ll be back soon with news of a new baby, a beloved member who moved away (mom of the new baby) and a really new baby who is yet on the way!  There might be more news I haven’t thought of yet too.  And oh yes, I will comment more on the essay and the book.

July Book: Ear of the Heart

At Least We’re Here is a group of ten women who have read books by Catholic Women Authors for the last 13 years.  Read about us here

Earlier in July we met to discuss Ear of the Heart by Mother Dolores Hart.

Most of hadn’t finished the book yet but everyone was enthralled by it.

Also in July we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the profession of our friend Celeste to Consecrated Virginity in the Denver Diocese.  We are so proud of her!!  That post is here.

Wine to help celebrate (can you believe the little heart shaped highlight in the third glass??)!

July2013 WineThen there is often food that captures the essence or ethnic heritage of the book.

On this night we were blessed to meet on July 10th, the vigil feast of St. Benedict (July 11) while talking about a book by a Benedictine Nun!  So Jean brought a dish of “simple monastic fare,” Macaroni and Cheese.

July 2013 FoodFollowing dinner there is dessert (not always but this time we got lucky with two!), Benedictine in spirit, Amy blessed us with a tasty, creamy Tapioca Pudding and Berries:

July 2013 DessertAnd Laura brought amazingly delicious gluten free treats from her Farmer’s Market booth, Laura’s Family:

July 2013 GlutenFreeEveryone agreed it was an epic Anniversary, and that the book must be discussed again– preferably after a Dolores Hart Movie Night!

Celeste in the yellow---10 years as a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World

Celeste in the yellow—10 years as a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World

We’re still trying to decide which movie Dolores Hart movie to watch at our next movie night!

What would you watch?  Have you ever had movies at your book club night?

Updated: Banana Sorbet for Movie Night

At Least We’re Here is a women’s book club!  Read more about it here

I just updated this post so I can include it in the Chocolate Party!!   A group of bloggers (including Veronica at My Catholic Kitchen) hosts the party and each month chocolate and 1 other ingredient must be used in the recipe.  When I saw that this month’s 2 ingredients are ice cream and chocolate I knew my Banana Sorbet with Chocolate Sauce would be perfect.  I am by no means a food blogger or photographer, so it’s a real treat to join in this month.   Roxana is the mastermind behind Chocolate Party and if you want to join on Twitter look for #chocolateparty.

We had a movie night recently.

Amy found a BBC production of the Alice Ellis novel we read, Unexplained Laughter.  It stars Diana Rigg as the emotional train wreck of a main character: Lydia.  Rigg was perfectly cast in this part.  I thoroughly enjoyed the movie which followed the plot faithfully even though I wasn’t that crazy about the book.

Movie-Unexplained-Laughter

Movie night at Dianne’s home: Diana Rigg stars as Lydia in Unexplained Laughter.

The food was amazing as usual.   Dianne recently returned from a fabulous trip to Poland, galavanting around in the footsteps of Blessed John Paul II, and she wisely chose to serve a mouth-watering Polish Sausage entree.

Sorry there are no photos of all the food.  I am the world’s worst photographer, because although I brought along my iPad for photos I only remembered to take pictures after dinner– during the movie.  Too eager to drink wine and eat appetizers I think.  I even neglected to record the dessert I’m blogging about so I made it again for the photos here.

The Banana Sorbet

is a combination of several recipes for Banana Sorbet that I found on the internet, and it includes a few changes in measurements so I think it is almost my very own creation.  The Chocolate Sauce is more or less found on the internet as a “Magic Shell” type of ice cream sauce that hardens over the frozen creaminess.

Pureed bananas are sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon and a smaller amount of nutmeg

Pureed bananas are sprinkled with a generous amount of cinnamon and a smaller amount of nutmeg

This dessert is so light and easy! 

The amounts aren’t exact but I’m giving you enough of an idea so it should work fine, and I really don’t think there is a way to mess it up too much.

I am waiting for a (sigh) new chopping blade for my food processor so I just took a regular mixer and beat 4 ripe bananas until smooth.  I added a pinch of salt, about 1/2 cup of simple sugar syrup (boil equal parts of water and sugar together and let cool), a big shake of cinnamon (about 1 tsp) and a small shake of nutmeg (about 1/4 tsp) and blended it all together.

Beat in some coconut milk and simple sugar syrup

Beat in some coconut milk and simple sugar syrup

Now don’t blink or you might miss this whole recipe.

I poured in about 1/2 can coconut milk and beat again and it was ready to freeze!  Yes that’s it, really.  I stuck it in the freezer and about 2 1/2 hours later I stirred it; about 2 1/2 hours after that I plopped it in a big bowl of ice and headed to Dianne’s house.

The Magically Delicious Chocolate Sauce

Next break up a 70% dark chocolate bar and gently melt using your preferred method: double boiler or microwave–and stir in a tablespoon of coconut oil and butter.  When you pour the sauce over any frozen confection it will harden.  If you leave out the butter it will be much tougher to break through with a spoon (which is what I did for Book Club; left out the butter I mean).

Chocolate_Sauce

Add the Chocolate Sauce and serve!

#chocolatepartyHere are the rules for adding your recipe to the Chocolate Party:

1.) Blog about your chocolate treat. Your recipe must include the two ingredients we choose. It can be a simple no bake treat or a sophisticated layer cake, the complexity level of the recipe is totally up to you.

2.) Include a link back to a monthly round-up or the Chocolate party page.  Optional, add the Chocolate Party logo in your blog post or on your sidebar.

3.) Your recipe must be published during the current month. Please do not link old recipes, they will be deleted.