Wednesday, September 19, 2012


This month it was my turn to host our book club dinner. My pick for the book was A Slave in the White House, by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor. It follows the life of Paul Jennings, a slave on the plantation of James and Dolley Madison. He goes with them to the White House and later buys his freedom. Ironically he ends up helping Dolley Madison when she becomes destitute after President Madison dies. The book is pieced together through  letters and journal entries resulting in a fascinating look at slavery in the nineteenth century.

Of course, as anyone who is a member of a book club knows, the meetings are all about the dinner and talking about life. Our group is a wonderful mix of ages, working women and stay at home moms. We share about our lives, good and bad, and offer support to each other. Everyone needs a group like this!

We started with a signature drink, cosmos, and cheese plate. My kitchen has a large butcher block island, perfect for gathering around.

Four cheeses, grapes, dried persimmons, nuts and olives make a pretty plate that tastes good too!

The dining table was set with blue Spode plates and dark wood chargers. I was going for a late summer woodland theme. Off I went into our woods foraging for foliage and inspiration. I came across these wonderful fungi and knew I had to use them. I clipped blackberry branches, salal and ferns. Then I gathered some moss and took my basketful to the house to start arranging. Here are the results!

 I put the two fungi on a mercury glass stemmed bowl surrounded with the blackberries, ferns and moss. Then I filled four small mercury glass vases with the rest of the foliage.

 I just love this. Look at the tiny little fern growing out of the fungus.

Dinner started with a salad. Arugula and Bibb lettuces with sliced peaches, blue cheese, and almonds. It was finished with a plum vinaigrette. A slice of Parmesan bread was added on the side.

The main course was herb crusted salmon. The salmon was spring Chinook accompanied by heirloom tomato salad and baby eggplant. The baby eggplants were filled with sun dried tomatoes with goat cheese followed by a drizzle of honey and balsamic vinegar.  Delish!
Several white wines, crisp and cold,were served with dinner.

Dessert was apple pie made with the apples off our ancient apple trees. It was served with homemade ice cream, spiced with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Another wonderful evening with "the girls"!