Book Club- Bluebird, Bluebird
This month we read Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke for book club. I really enjoyed this book. It’s a novel with Darren, a Texas Ranger, as the main character.
It takes place in Lark, Texas, a small southern town with racial tensions. It tells the story of two murders that happened in Lark, along with a story from the past interwoven. This book combined some of my greatest interests- murder mysteries, racial issues and food. Attica has a lyricism to her writing that I really enjoyed. The pacing at the beginning of the book was a little slow but it quickly accelerated, so that the book becomes a page-turner.
Even though some of the content was dark (race, death and grief), the book ladies agreed this would probably be in the “beach read” category. I thought it was an amazing book and would recommend it to anyone. However, a couple of the book club ladies aren’t murder mystery fans so they would selectively recommend it.
As always, we had some great discussion after reading this book. It brought up issues of discrimination and privilege. We talked about the struggle of being a good ally and the burden of misrepresented populations to educate others.
Book rating: Would recommend and will read again! (9/10)
Since the book took place in Texas, I was happy to make a southern menu. Here’s what we had:
- Honey Bourbon Pulled Pork on pretzel buns
- Collard green (see recipe below)
- Pickled carrots
- Fried peach pies
The main character drank Bourbon but I thought beer would go better with this meal, so I found one from Texas. This Shiner Ruby Redbird seemed like a refreshing choice to offset the richness of our meal. One of the book club ladies lived in Austin, TX for awhile and said this beer is quite popular there and I can see why! It’s crisp and refreshing and would be great for hot weather or as a pairing with a rich meal. I did wish there was more grapefruit flavor, but still enjoyed it overall and the other book club ladies agreed.
Beer rating: Will drink again (and again) (8/10)
Next month we will be reading The Vorrh by Brian Catling. It was Sally’s pick this time and she wanted a fantasy book, so this should be an interesting read. Don’t forget to follow along on my Book Club Pinterest board to see what else we’ve read.
Collard greens are definitely a staple in southern cooking! Both Derek’s and my families has roots in the south so we have them at least once a month as a side dish with dinner and have even grown them in our garden. Collard greens are also one of the few vegetables that tastes even better, the longer they’re cooked. The greens get an almost creamy texture that is incredible as they cook and soften!
Before cooking the greens, make sure to wash them thoroughly. You can either rinse off each leaf, or soak them in cold water. The center rib (or stalk) of each leaf is not supposed to be eaten, similar to kale, so you’ll cut that out of each leaf.
Then cut each leaf in half and cut each half into inch-wide strips. I usually stack up the leaves and cut them all at once, just to make things quicker.
In a Dutch oven or other large pot, cook the bacon and onion over medium heat.
Cook it until the bacon is starting to brown and the onions are softened.
Now add your greens. It’ll look like a lot but don’t worry, they will cook down quite a bit! Cook those until they start to wilt (just a couple of minutes), making sure to mix the bacon and onions in from the bottom so everything is combined.
Now pour in the stock until the greens are barely covered.
Put on the lid and cook at least forty-five minutes and up to 2 hours. The stock will cook down, but add a bit more periodically if it’s completely evaporated. Add the vinegar and taste to see if you need salt.
Serve warm as a side dish or topped with an egg for breakfast. Yum!
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 thick slices of bacon
- 2 bunches collards
- 2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- salt to taste
- Clean greens thoroughly.
- Trim the center rib (or stalk) of each leaf and cut each leaf in half. Cut into inch-wide strips.
- Cook bacon and onion over medium heat until bacon starts to brown and onions are softened.
- Add greens and cook those until they start to wilt (just a couple of minutes), making sure to mix the bacon and onions in from the bottom so everything is combined.
- Pour in stock until greens are barely covered. Put on the lid and cook at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours. The stock will cook down, but add a bit more periodically if it's completely evaporated.
- Add vinegar and taste for salt.
- Serve warm.
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