Thursday, March 3, 2011

After the Dancing Days

Phew!  This is the last catch up post and then we are all up to date!

Last night we had a great meeting discussing After the Dancing Days by Margaret I. Rostkowski.  This is the story of 13 year old Annie Metcalf whose father is coming back from his assignment treating wounded soldiers as a doctor during World War I.  Annie begins visiting him at the new hospital where he is now working to continue to treat and help WWI vets who have been severely injured.  Annie overcomes her initial revulsion to a young man (Andrew) whose face has been completely destroyed by exposure to mustard gas and a deep friendship blooms.

A couple of our readers had read this YA novel years ago and loved it and found it very interesting to revisit it now as adults.  They noted that through adult eyes it was much easier to understand Annie's mother's desire to protect her young daughter from the ugliness of war.  We discussed the desire to forget the ugly things that happened during the war and pretend like they didn't happen.  This brought us to a discussion of people who look different today and how we react to them.  Whether the people we come in contact with have mental challenges or physical challenges, we discussed how every person wants and needs to be acknowledged no matter what their appearance is like.  Another insightful point of our discussion for me was in considering Andrew's choice and strength of character in moving on with his life.  He found a job that he could do and a way to help and serve others despite his obvious challenges.  It was instructive for me to consider that no matter what challenges I may have it is important to find a way to keep going, moving forward and finding ways to help others and find self-worth in what I can do, rather than wallowing in self-pity for what I can't accomplish.

We all know book club wouldn't be book club without food! Here are Lindsey's recipes for the delicious treats we enjoyed!

Although it doesn't have to be be 7 layers, here are suggestions for the layers of the bean dip:
Bottom layer: 2 cans refried beans mixed with 1 package of taco seasoning
Next layer: Guacamole (either homemade or canned, but if you use homemade, make sure you put lemon juice in it. Otherwise, it will not keep a nice green color.)
3rd layer: sour cream
4th layer: shredded cheese (any kind works)
(these 4 layers are the main ones. All layers following can be whatever you personally like)
5th layer: chopped tomoates
6th layer: chopped green onions
7th layer: olives

Fruit pizza
(makes one pizza crust):
1 can 16-18 oz refrigerated sugar cookie dough
(Or homemade recipe. This is the one I used:
Cream together 1/2 c softened butter and 3/4 c white sugar. Mix in 1 egg. Add 1 1/4 c flour, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/4 t salt.)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Press cookie dough into a well-greased pizza pan.
3. Bake 10 minutes (could be shorter or longer depending on the thickness of the crust. It will continue baking after it's pulled out of the oven, so take it out just when it's starting to turn a golden brown color.)
4. Cool completely.

Cream cheese topping (makes enough for 2 pizzas):
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (straight from the fridge)
5 T room temperature butter
1 t vanilla
Cream these together.
Add 2 c powdered sugar

Add whatever fruit toppings you want after frosting the pizzas (I used mandarin oranges, kiwis, strawberries, grapes, and bananas).
Chill for at least 1 hour.

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