Monday, October 24, 2016

Comfort and Joy, Kristin Hannah~Book Club with a side of Baked Potato and Salad

As you know the "Have you read the book" book club are big fans of Kristin Hannah, not sure how we missed this one when it was first published but thank you Jan for recomending Comfort and Joy, By Kristin Hannah

This month we had to do a bit of re-juggling of hosts and the day for our book club gathering, but we are a flexible group and after a long summer vacation we were back together again. Thank you, Ann, for stepping in and hosting, we know you will be on grand baby watch this November so thanks for switching months. Ann, we are right there with you waiting for the wee one!  

We all have signature dishes that we make for book club, tried and true recipes that always taste yummy that we whip up for gatherings and one of Ann’s is her lasagna.When I stepped into Ann’s home the other night I was wondering if that was her lasagna I smelled, hmmm I was not sure what was in her oven but it smelled so yummy.

With fall in the air and as the leaves on the Sugar Maples start to turn a brilliant orange and red, Ann said she was trying to think of comfort food for tonight and what she came up with was a baked potato and a tossed salad bar, as Ann said, hey you can use many of the same ingredients: diced tomatoes, avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, scallions, home cooked bacon bites, red onion, sour cream, home-made ranch dressing and balsamic dressing.

Oh, yea who doesn’t love a baked potato! I don’t think I have ever turned down a baked potato…Usually hubby and I split one so I can get my carbo fix adding just a dash of butter, salt and pepper oh so good. Tonight, however we all loaded up our potatoes and tossed our salad while we chatted.

As we caught up on summer vacations and Rosemary’s fifty-year wedding anniversary, she went on a truly fantastic holiday in the Bahamas where Ro was treated like a queen as she should be treated!  We then moved on to discuss the book and as always shared lots of giggles.

Comfort and Joy was Jan’s selection and it truly is a joy to read. We all agreed that it was a sweet, spiritual story, a bit fantastical with a touch of whimsy. The main character loved Christmas, however in the story this year she was coping with a family betrayal and trying to find her way back to herself and happiness. During the Christmas holiday Joy makes a last-minute decision to board a plane, maybe an adventure would help her change her life.

A series of events that are tragic and magical lead Joy to a friendship with young Bobby and a not so friendly relationship with his Father. We all agreed that this was a great story not just during Christmas but any time.

Snuggle into your favorite chair, make a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy this wonderful book,Comfort and Joy.

Baked Potato, so easy!

Russet potatoes are best for a potato bar. Ann had large potatoes so some of us split them. It is always best to bake one per person, if you have left-over reheat the next day, make home fries, potato soup or use as a thickener for mushroom soup.

Heat oven to 400 decrees~ Bake 60 minutes, I usually check on them after 30 minutes and flip ~ on the racks in the oven or on a foil covered baking sheet. Great information on

Rinse, scrub and dry the potatoes, I use a vegetable scrubber to clean the potatoes.
Prick the potatoes with a fork, yes they can explode and what a mess that can be! I usually prick each end of the potato and depending on the size of the potato if they are really large maybe each side as well.

Use a small amount of olive oil to rub all over the potato, I have a baking dish I put them in or you can lay them on the racks in your oven.

Bake for 30 minutes, turn over using tongs, be careful not to burn yourself! Bake another 30 minutes and then you have the perfect baked potato, of course depending on the size they could cook faster, to be safe just check them as they bake.

Potato and salad toppers:

Dice tomatoes, you can use cherry or regular
Avocado, peeled and diced
Cheddar Cheese, shredded
Scallions, diced
Bacon cut into bite size pieces, only fresh bacon for me not a fan of bacon bites
Sour Cream
One Red onion, diced
Ranch and or blue cheese dressing
Balsamic dressing for the Field Greens Salad
Field Greens for the Salad, rinse, dry and place in a large bowl

Now you are ready and wasn’t that easy…

Oh, and since the name of our book was “Comfort and Joy” comfort food seemed like an appropriate choice. What are your favorite comfort foods?

Just Cook Something! Cheers~ Kary 

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