Book Club- What Alice Forgot
The book we read this month was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. The response in book club was split this time. Betsy and I really enjoyed it, but the other ladies did not. The basic premise of this book is that Alice bumps her head in an accident and ends up with amnesia. She loses 10 years of her life, thinking it’s 1998 when it is in fact 2008. The story then shows what implications that has on her life, her family, etc. I found this book fascinating. It made me ponder how the brain could work. It also made me think about what my life looked like 10 years ago (quite different, Derek and I had just met!). I liked how the book made me reflect on the twists and turns my life has taken. While Alice was not my favorite character, I could identify with her sister, Elizabeth who struggles with infertility. All of that made it easier for me to ignore parts I didn’t enjoy as much, like how it all wrapped up and some of the unlikeable characters. The ladies that didn’t enjoy the book were not fans of the author’s writing style, the story in general, and couldn’t identify with any of the characters. I have to say that’s one of the neat things about book club, we all come in with different perspectives. There may have been books I didn’t enjoy at all and another person loved it. It’s always interesting discussing the books and this was was no exception.
This book is billed as an easy summer beach read, but I don’t feel like that was the case. While it’s a quick read, the content isn’t funny and easy breezy as advertised.
Book rating: I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to most people. However, I wouldn’t read it again because a lot of the interest is discovering things (again) with the character. (8/10)
The book took place in Australia, but that wasn’t my main focus for the food. Here’s the menu:
- Ham & Swiss Biscuit Pinwheels (see recipe below)- There’s a scene in the book where some of the characters have a picnic and eat ham and cheese sandwiches. I thought it would be fun to make something a little more interesting with ham and cheese. I then planned the menu around that.
- Kale Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette– My old standby!
- Red grapes- just something sweet and refreshing.
- Nutella-stuffed banana walnut muffins- Alice is known for her banana muffins so it seemed only fitting that this be the dessert for the evening.
An Australian wine seemed the obvious choice for a beverage since Australia has a large wine region (and I already served an Australian beer for another book). I found this Yalumba Y Series 2017 Viognier at Cost Plus for just $10!
It was tasty, but I kind of wish I didn’t know it was a Viognier before drinking it. I’m used to Viognier being sweeter, the dryness of this varietal was a surprise. I did like it, though, once I adjusted my expectations. It’s dry and crisp with a light mouthfeel. It has the scent of white flowers and has a light mineral taste (not in a bad way). I think this is best when paired with food. It worked well with the kale salad we ate and would also be nice with a light fish dish or something spicy.
Wine rating: At $10 definitely worth a try. I’d buy it again for a specific meal. (8/10)
Our next read (my choice!) is So Close to Being the Sh*t Ya’ll Don’t Even Know by Retta and I can’t wait to read it! If you watched Parks & Rec, you know Retta as “treat yoself” Donna. She’s also in one of our new favorite shows, Good Girls (on NBC). It has been great watching Retta’s star rise and I am excited to learn more about her. As always, you can follow along with what we’re reading on my Book Club Pinterest Board. I’d love to hear what any of you that read What Alice Forgot thought about it.
Ham & Swiss Biscuit Pinwheels
These were a big hit with the book club ladies! They are cheesy and flaky without being too rich. We all agreed that they would be really delicious with a fried egg on top. They’d be great at brunch, for lunch with a light salad, or really any time of the day.
You’ll start by making the biscuit dough. This takes a few hours because you’re going to let it chill at least once and re-roll it so you get lots of flaky layers (think croissants but less fussy!). Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Now cut in the butter with your fingers or a pastry blender until you have chunks of butter no larger than the size of a pea. This process is very similar to making pie dough.
Now pour in your milk and stir until it all just comes together.
Plop the dough on a floured surface and pat into a rectangle about 6″ by 8″. Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour. Take the dough out, unwrap it and put it on the floured surface again. Roll it out to about 12″ by 16″ and then fold it into thirds. Wrap it and chill another hour.
After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven and get out two pie dishes or a 9″ by 13″ casserole dish. Now mix together the mayo, mustard and rosemary in a small bowl.
It’s time to assemble the pinwheels! Get your dough out of the fridge. Roll it out to a 12” by 16” rectangle again and fold in thirds. Roll it out one final time to the same size. Now brush on the mayo/mustard mixture, leaving about 1/2″ around all the edges. I am normally not a mustard fan but you don’t actually taste it. It just enhances the flavors of the Swiss cheese and helps everything stick together.
Now sprinkle the Swiss over that and press it into the dough. Take your slices of ham and shingle them over the cheese. Press that into the dough and now you’re going to roll it up into a log.
Starting at the long end closest to you, rolling it up, pinching underneath as you go so the fillings don’t slide out. Once it is rolled all the way pinch to seal the seams.
Now slice it into 1″ pinwheels.
Place the pinwheels in your pie plates.
Brush each one on the sides and top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt.
Now bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are golden on top and not too soft in the center. Let them cool at least 10 minutes and then serve.
The dough is nice and flaky and the cheese is all gooey. So yummy!
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter cut into cubes and chilled
- 12 ounces milk
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 8 ounces grated Swiss cheese
- 8 ounces sliced honey ham
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- coarse sea salt for topping
- Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
- Cut in butter until it is in chunks no larger than a pea.
- Pour in milk and stir until it all just comes together.
- Plop dough on floured surface and pat into a rectangle about 6" by 8". Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least an hour.
- Unwrap dough and put back on floured surface. Roll out to about 12" by 16" and fold into thirds.
- Wrap and chill another hour.
- Preheat oven to 400° and get out two pie dishes or a 9" by 13" casserole dish.
- Mix mayo, mustard, and rosemary in a small bowl.
- Roll dough out to a 12" by 16" rectangle again and fold in thirds. Roll out one final time to about 12" by 16" rectangle.
- Brush on mayo/mustard mixture, leaving about 1/2" around all the edges.
- Sprinkle Swiss over that and press into dough. Shingle ham slices over cheese press into the dough.
- Start rolling up dough at the long end, pinching underneath. Pinch to seal seams.
- Slice into 1" pinwheels and place them in pie plates.
- Brush sides and tops with melted butter and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
- Bake about 30 minutes or until golden on top and not too soft in the center. Cool at least 10 minutes and serve.