Book Club- “Better” by Atul Gawande

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Here’s another recovered lost post- this was my first book club post!

There’s four of us ladies that meet every month to discuss our latest book (we rotate who selects the book).  Honestly, when my friend Betsy first approached me with the idea to have a book club two years ago, I was less than enthused.  I think I had an idea in my head of what a book club was and it didn’t seem fun.  Sure, it would encourage me to read more, but it also sounded intimidating.  What if I didn’t like the book?  What if I made a fool of myself by not making the same observations others did?  However, Betsy convinced me to join and I’m glad I did.  Turns out, Betsy’s right about a lot of things 🙂

I intend for Book Club posts to become a regular (semi-monthly) occurrence here on By the Pounds. Every month I will give a brief summary and review of the book we read.  I will include the menu, a quick review of the wine or cocktail we drank (let’s be real, what is Book Club without an adult beverage, am I right?!), and a recipe for anything that I made. When I host, I tend to serve both handmade items and things I bought from the store.

With that intro- Welcome to Book Club!

Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance was a fantastic book! Atul Gawande uses his medical background as a surgeon to provide fascinating examples of how trying just a little harder and finding ways to improve can make a huge difference. This includes stories about implementing an enormous vaccination effort in India to how childbirth has evolved over the years.  Atul’s writing persona is humble, funny and informative all at the same time.  He also does an excellent job tying all of these stories in to his overarching theme of constant improvement, along with a nice synopsis at the end. I am looking forward to reading his other books.  While all of the book club members had different takeaways from the book, everyone agreed it was worth the read.  It really spurred some great discussion- one of the ladies just had a baby so it was fascinating to hear her perspective about the childbirth chapter.  There was also a chapter on treatments for Cystic Fibrosis which led to an interesting discussion about healthcare and our various experiences.

Book ratingMake this one your next read! (9/10)

Our menu that evening was:

  • Sugar Snap Pea toasts (recipe below)
  • Rice Krispy treats made with scotch marshmallows, drizzled with butterscotch sauce
  • Muscat grapes
  • Cheddar Cheese spread
  • Crostini
  • Sangria


I came across this Lolea Sangria awhile ago at Whole Foods. It was delicious and refreshing and under $20!  We were having people over the night I bought it, so we ended up sharing it.  Once I took the first sip I selfishly wished we hadn’t.  This time I was smart and bought two bottles 😉  I liked this wine because it’s sweet, but not cloyingly so, and is fizzy.  Since Sangria is wine mixed with various fruits, this wine could be good by itself or paired with a light dinner.  This was the red version, but they make a white one as well.  This will be a great option for easy drinking as the weather gets warmer.

Wine RatingAdd to your regular rotation! (8/10)

The next book we’ll be reading is called The little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

We had a great time discussing this book.  I’d love to hear about your book club.  What kind of food do you have?  What has your favorite book been? Fill me in and don’t forget to check out my book club Pinterest board.

 

Snap Pea Toasts

A few years ago, my husband and I had dinner at Delancey here in Seattle and had an appetizer of Sugar Snap Peas on toast. It was so fresh and tasty; I knew I’d want to recreate it at home. This recipe is the result. This toast is great for a fresh lunch, small dinner, or as an appetizer when entertaining.

Chop the Sugar Snap Peas into pieces about 1/4 inch wide and mix with coarse sea salt and basil. Toast some bread- I find that whole grain is best. Slather each piece of toast with about a tablespoon of goat cheese. Top with the Sugar Snap Pea mixture and more coarse sea salt to taste. If you don’t like the sharp taste of goat cheese, use a milder soft cheese like Ricotta. I typically have 2 pieces of toast for a lunch. If you were serving this as an appetizer, I would serve them as halves if the bread slices are large and plan on 2 halves per person.

This recipe is for 2 lunch-size servings.

 

Snap Pea Toasts
Save RecipeSave Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 cup Sugar Snap Peas
  • 4 Tablespoons Goat Cheese
  • 2 basil leaves chopped
  • Coarse sea salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Chop the Sugar Snap Peas into pieces about 1/4 inch wide and mix with coarse sea salt and basil.
  2. Toast bread.
  3. Slather each piece of toast with about a tablespoon of goat cheese.
  4. Top with the Sugar Snap Pea mixture and more coarse sea salt to taste.
  5. I typically have 2 pieces of toast for a lunch. If you were serving this as an appetizer, I would serve them as halves if the bread slices are large and plan on 2 halves per person. This recipe is for 2 lunch-size servings.
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