You know when you’re with a group of people, and a certain moment occurs when you look around, and see everyone’s faces, and the way they’re interacting with each other, and it just all feels so fully right, so deeply comfortable, so very real, and honest, and sincere? That happened for me last night, with my Feel Good Book Club buddies when we gathered at club member Annie Louise Perkinson’s Flying Cloud Farm.
We’d planned to picnic out in a field in front of the new home Annie Louise and her husband Isaiah are building. As she gave us a tour of the farm and future home, we noticed the quickly advancing, ominously dark storm clouds to the west, and opted to skedaddle back to the house instead. We jumped into Molly‘s car, and as we bumped across the fields back towards Annie Louise’s 100 year-old log cabin, we chatted and laughed, and I saw Annie Louise brush a stray curl off of Cathy‘s forehead while they were chatting. That small, easy gesture, like something you’d do to your younger sister, or best friend, was what did it for me. It’s when I realized just how at ease I’ve become with this group of women.
What started as an idea for a book club involving books that made us feel good (and lacked, say, rapists, or drug addicts, or serial killers-those books can be great, don’t get me wrong, this just isn’t the book club for them) has turned into so much more than that. We always build a potluck meal around our selections, and as we gather together every few weeks to chat and chew, we’ve begun to nourish each other’s lives in ways far surpassing the sustenance we bring with us in covered dishes. The nature of our gatherings, focusing on a literary work, gives us a launching pad for rich conversation. Last night, as we discussed Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings, talk moved from slavery, to racial equality, to racial profiling, to bullying, to the treatment of women in the workplace, to the current political race and political climate in the U.S.. We relayed anecdotes, and revealed personal challenges, and encouraged one another. I left with a very full belly, and an equally full heart.
If you’re in the area, I highly suggest checking out what Annie Louise, Isaiah, and their crew are doing. Flying Cloud Farm, located in Fairview, sells their items at three area farmer’s markets, offers a CSA subscription, maintains an April-December roadside stand on the farm, and grows a vast array of flowers available for U-pick as well as sold in bouquets (they do wedding design, too). Their farm is a happy, nurturing place, full of soul, and dogs, and farm interns, and bamboo forests, and bubbling creeks, and vintage bicycles, and snorting pigs, and galloping horses, and so very much more. If you stop by, tell Annie Louise I sent you!
I’ve had a good number of people ask about joining our book club. I’m incredibly flattered by that, that you like what you see us doing so much that you’d like to become a part of the fun. While we’re keeping things small and just between us friends, I encourage you to start a book club of your own, wherever you live. We’re all food-focused women in the Feel Good Book Club, so our meet-ups always involve a potluck. Using that as your template, survey a group of friends about their interest in forming a club, select a book collaboratively, choose your first date and who’ll host, and go for it! That’s what we did, with our inaugural meet up nearly one year ago. It just keeps getting better!
At the conclusion of each meeting, we choose the next month’s selection (the host for that month gets to suggest 3 options for the next reading), who will host next (we rotate hosts each month), and we agree on a date for the following month’s meeting, typically a week night, as weekends fill up so quickly for most folks. As we get into the next month’s selection, we start tossing around potluck ideas via email. It all coalesces pretty naturally and organically.
I’d LOVE it if you’d share book club ideas/themes/tips with me! This is the first book club I’ve ever been a part of. A lifelong, avid reader who sidelined her reading since becoming a mother to those books that I was either writing or reading to Huxley, it feels so, so very good to be delving back into reading for pleasure. I’m curious to hear about your experiences and adventures, snafus and mishaps. Share, please! And thank you, FGBC ladies, for filling my cup, every month, in ways both direct and mysterious.
So much green here in the cove! We finally got a much needed rain shower this past weekend. Right this very minute, as well. It’s thundering outside, the sky is ominous, and my German Shepherd, Fly, who is otherwise ferocious at defending us (and herself) from perceived threats, is a hot mess, curled up under my feet, whimpering and pawing at me. Sorry, furry buddy, but we need this. Let it rain!
Here’s a quick little smattering of this and that’s that caught my attention this weekend:
*Roasted strawberries. Sacrilege or brillance? I’m going with brilliance!
*Research proves that women who live surrounded by nature live longer. Therefore, I shall live forever.
*Because I can never get enough natural oral hygiene tips in my life, here are 4 natural remedies for a healthy mouth.
*Speaking of books, completely intrigued by From the Forest: A Search For the Hidden Roots Of Our Fairy Tales.
*I just want to give Birkenstock a big old “I LOVE YOU!” shout out. It’s been warm enough lately for sandals, and I’ve been wearing the Birks I bought last year all weekend. They’re the first I’ve ever owned, and they are, without question, some of the best shoes I’ve ever had the pleasure of sliding my feet into. Customer for life from now on.
*My friend Valerie has the loveliest little tooth pillows for lost teeth for sale in her Etsy shop. Perfect for tucking under pillows in anticipation of a certain nocturnal fairy!
*I’m as equally thrilled about treating my mom to brunch at Knife & Fork for Mother’s Day as I am about treating myself to brunch there!
*Speaking of Mother’s Day, Wake Foot Spa in downtown Asheville would be a lovely gift for the mamas in your life. I went last month for the first time, with my friend Maria, and then I took my mom there for her birthday a few weeks ago. It is simply divine. Huge copper bowls filled with a foot soak of your choice. Hot neck wraps. Foot and lower leg massages (for an additional fee). Chill vibes. Hot teas. You booked your reservation yet?
Off to finish cooking for tonight’s meeting of my monthly Feel Good Book Club. We read The Invention of Wings, by beloved author Sue Monk Kidd, and are building a potluck around low-country foods. I’ve made a creamy rice pudding with orange zest and nutmeg, and am now heading to the kitchen to cook up some Gullah-inspired butter and bacon grease braised cabbage. Tonight’s meeting is going to be beyond.
From my home to yours, here’s hoping the week ahead is a great one!
I’m beyond excited to be partnering with Wild Abundance next month during a weeklong course on cooking ancestral foods. Located on beautiful land in the mountains of western North Carolina, we’ll gather to share and discuss ways of cooking and incorporating nutrient dense foods into our lives. Here’s how Wild Abundance describes the class:
“As we come back to the land, we understand how sacred and vital nutritious food is to our health and well-being. The Appalachian Mountains offer an abundance of natural culinary herbs and medicinals, and this cooking class will teach you how to identify, use and prepare seasonal foods, as well as the nutrient-dense plants and weeds eagerly growing in your own backyard. You’ll also learn the power of fermented dishes for your gut health and gain experience in the basics of butchery, charcuterie (preserving, fermenting and storing meat), as well as the joys of raw foods and sprouting and of making your own cheese and yogurt. It will be a unique farm-to-table experience you won’t want to miss.”
Here’s a listing of the classes being offered:
*Wild Foods Foraging and Cookery, with Natalie Bogwalker
*Making Bone Broth and Cooking with It, with Natalie Bogwalker
*Herb Gardening, with Juliet Blankespoor
*Fermented Foods: How to Make Kimchi, Kraut, Pickled Veggies and Mead, with Marissa Percoco
*How to Butcher a Chicken, with Meredith Leigh
*Beyond the Flavor of Herbs and Spices: Using Food as Medicine, with Juliet Blankespoor
*Nutrition, the Paleo Diet and Whole Foods, with Kaleb Wallace
*Raw Food, Living Food, and Integrating Them into a Diet for Vibrant Health, with Katherine Clark
*Home Butchery & Charcuterie, with Meredith Leigh
*Simple Kitchen Gardening: Farm to Table in Your Own Back Yard, with Becky Beyer
*Food Preservation and Food Storage Methods: Canning, Freezing, Pickling and Drying Food from the Garden and the Wild, with Natalie Bogwalker
*Dairy Fermentation: How to Make Cheese and Yogurt, with Ashley English
*Quench: Homemade Beverages of Both the Sinful and Sweet Variety, with Ashley English
So good, right?! Join us! We begin the afternoon of Sunday, May 22nd and conclude Friday, May 27th (I’ll be teaching my two classes on Thursday afternoon, May 26th). All of the details for the class can be found here, along with instructor bios, descriptions of individual classes, and recommended lodging, for those coming from out-of-town.
There are also several scholarships available, offering 1/2 off the cost of tuition. If interested, please email firstname.lastname@example.org answering the following questions:
1. Your name
2. Describe your passion for learning about food
3. Detail how you will apply what you are learning
4. Describe why you financially need the scholarship
This weeklong class promises to be glorious one. Hope to see some of you there!
Let’s eat, and drink, and be merry together! The lovely M. Judson Books in Greenville, SC is putting together a book signing and dinner in honor of “Handmade Gatherings” and I’d love to see you there, if you can make it. They’re partnering up with The Chocolate Moose Cupcake & Dessert Bar for a Sunday Sit Down Supper on May 15th from 7:00-9:00 pm. Tickets to the event include:
*A copy of one of my books
*A favor or two
*A four-course meal with wine pairings from the menus in Handmade Gatherings
The menu looks scrumptious, and includes several recipes from the book:
*Pistachio-Crusted Asparagus with Feta Vinaigrette
*Anne Marie’s Chicken Pot Pie
*Local Strawberry Pavlova
Tickets to the event are $75 per ticket, and can be purchased here.
I’ll also be at the bookstore at 4 pm, for a book signing and casual meet & greet. If you’re in the area, please do drop by. I give good hugs and like talking to strangers.
Looking forward to sharing and supping with you next month!