The Book Group have already chosen ‘Days without End’ by Sebastian Barry as the book to read and discuss this month. As I had put this book forward, among others, I am going to have to defend it; then provide a ‘high tea’ type meal to the members of the group, after our discussion.
When I first joined the Group, the host only had to provide ‘cakes’. Time has passed, some members come from work, needing a meal.. It has become a little more difficult since some have become Vegetarians, others, Vegans .
I have nothing against their beliefs, but being an old fashioned ‘country style’ cook, I find it hard to change my old recipes into Vegan ones. No ‘dairy ’products and ’no ‘eggs’, no ‘meat,’ in one case ‘no ‘sugar’
‘Tomato and red pepper soup’ suitable for all, with gluten free flat bread.
Houmous, with carrot and celery sticks, and flat bread.
A salmon and spinach quiche, with a green salad.
A raspberry and rhubarb crumble, for the Vegans, made of ground almonds, coconut flower sugar, nuts, almond butter and coconut flour. The old fashioned one made of sugar, butter and flour for the rest of us.
A big fruit trifle with custard and cream for those who dare to eat it. We are all looking after our cholesterol these days. We do allow ourselves a treat, now and again.
Tea or coffee.
When I was young, I would be able to cook this meal on the day of the meeting. Now that I am over 80 and disabled, I have to make use of my ‘freezer’ and prepare some parts of the dishes early. I have already made the crumble toppings, ready to cook. They are in the ‘freezer’ with the prepared rhubarb. The raspberries will join them before the dish goes into the oven on the day of the meal. I will make the soup the night before, also the pastry base of the quiche. I will start making the trifle by taking a sponge base out of the ’freezer’ splitting it into two parts and spreading them with raspberry jam. I then soak this with raspberry jelly. The next day, when the jelly has set, I cover it with fruit, thick creamy custard and whipped cream.
I make crumbles regularly, but make trifles only for the friends that like them specially. Today is Thursday, two clear days before the meal on Sunday. I feel that I have taken on more than I can cope with. The mind is willing but the body has got a bit too feeble to cope. I
Give myself a stern lecture, ‘’ get cleaning the flat, and prepare for the cooking, just do the best you can.’’ I will tell you how it pans out later.
TWO DAYS LATER
The book group meeting has been and gone, I think that it was successful. I tried to make a good case for recommending the book ‘Day without End’ by Sebastian Barry’. Not all members agreed with me. One actually said that my brief précis was better than the actual book.
Other members liked the story about two penniless young men in the American army, fighting the War against the Indians led by ‘’Caught his Horse First’’. They then went straight into the Civil war on the Union side suffering the viciousness of ‘’ hand to hand combat ‘’ on a losing side. Eventually being taken prisoners. At this stage of the war both sides had no rations, just two pieces of corn bread a day.
No food at all for the black prisoner, he depended upon his friends to keep him alive. Eventually, Mr Lincoln agreed to an exchange of prisoners, so Thomas and John went back to the home they shared with a young Indian girl Winona, who they had adopted. Once they had gained their strength, Mr Lincoln wanted them to fight another battle against ‘‘Caught his Horse First’’ again.
This book is basically about the love between the young men and their love for the young Indian girl they adopted.
.They strived to do everything possible to protect her.
I am not going to say any more. You must read it for yourselves. Some of the battle scenes are hard to read, but they were a big part of the story which was savage the on both sides. Some things have not changed to this day.
The book is beautifully composed, fantastic descriptions of wonderful untamed countryside and the soldiers who fought their wars there.
The group discussed the book thoroughly. The one member did not like it at all.
Most did not like the war scenes but liked the rest of the book. I absolutely love this book and will read it again and again. The tenderness in the description of the relationships struck a chord with me. I even shed a few tears. I could have done without all that bloodshed, and starvation, unfortunately, that was a big part of the history of the period. The relationship between the three main characters, Handsome John Cole, wren like Thomas McNulty and Winona, the young Indian maid, is so cleverly and sympathetically drawn that they became very real to me. John and Thomas would have gladly sacrificed their lives for this young Indian girl, Winona.
After the discussion, we all enjoyed the meal that I had prepared. A good evening, shared with friends.