Best. Book. EVER! Yup, I really mean it. Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer is the best book I have ever read…twice! In high school, my father suggested I read a 600 page book about two boys born on the same date of the same year (April 18, 1906) in two completely different worlds. One born to privilege in Boston, the other born to poverty literally in the middle of a field in Poland. Let’s just say that it took me a while to read the book back then but I loved every minute of it. So when my book club was discussing what to read next, I selfishly had to recommend Kane and Abel so I could experience it again! And I have to say that all but one person in my book club were absolutely obsessed with the story and Jeffrey Archers thrilling writing. So who better to host the book club meeting than me? Since Kane and Abel is all about the man from Boston who has been given everything and the man from Poland who has fought for everything in his life, I put together a menu inspired by both of their backgrounds. I can’t say enough that you all need to read this book. In fact, you are welcome to borrow my copy when my friend returns it!
Appetizer: Corn Chowder and Boston Brown Bread
Mains: Polish Sausage and Vegetables, Halushki, Slow Cooker Boston Baked Beans
Dessert: Boston Cream Pie in a Jar
BOSTON CREAM PIE IN A JAR
Since the Boston Cream Pie in a Jar is pictured above, let’s start with that! Plus, who doesn’t want to start with dessert first?!? It is so simple! Just make a sheet cake of your favorite vanilla cake. Let it cool then cut out circles that are the same size as the mouth of a jelly jar. Separately, you can make pudding using vanilla pudding powder or you can even buy premade vanilla pudding. And your last ingredient is chocolate frosting. Again, you can make your own or just buy frosting in a can. Just melt the frosting in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, until easy to pour. Now comes the layering! In the bottom of each jar, spoon in some vanilla pudding. Drop in a cake round then pour a heaping spoonful of the chocolate frosting. Spoon in some more vanilla pudding, then the cake, then the frosting. And that’s it! You won’t even believe how incredible those three simple ingredients can taste in one bite.
Now on to the corn chowder and Boston brown bread, which was my absolute favorite part of the meal! I could eat bowls and bowls of this chowder.
1 Tbsp unsalted margarine
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
3 ears of corn
2 bay leaves
4 cups soy milk (you can use low-fat milk as well)
1 medium potato (any type is fine)
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, melt the margarine over medium heat and saute the onion for 5 minutes, until soft. Add the carrot and celery and cook for 5 more minutes. Cut the corn kernels off of the cobs then break the cobs in half and add them to the pan. Add the soy milk and bay leaf, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the milk doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan. Discard the cobs and the bay leaves, raise the heat and add the potatoes, red pepper, paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer for another 15 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender. Add the corn kernels and simmer for 5 more minutes. Eat and enjoy!
BOSTON BROWN BREAD
this recipe is from allrecipes.com
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or 1 1/2 cups soy milk with 2 Tbsp lemon juice)
2/3 cup raisins
Preheat oven toe 375 degrees F. In a bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda and salt. Mix in the molasses and buttermilk. Stir in the raisins. Pour the batter in to a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan and bake for 1 hour. This bread reminds me of pumpkin bread in color but is VERY molasses-ey…yup, that is a word now!
Okay, so I have no idea how good Polish sausage is! It’s also super fattening so I have to stay far far away. But oh so delicious. What else can I say?
POLISH SAUSAGE AND VEGETABLES
1 pound Polish sausage, cut in to slices
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 orange bell pepper, sliced
1-2 cups cubed potato
2 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp canola oil
In a large skillet, cook the potatoes in the oil for 5 minutes then add the sausage, onion, peppers and seasoning for another 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the vegetables are getting soft but still have a little crunch.
This Eastern European dish combines bacon, fried cabbage and egg noodles.
1 pound beef bacon or beef fry
1 onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 package (16 oz.) egg noodles
1 head cabbage, sliced
lots of salt and pepper to taste
Cook the egg noodles according to the package directions then set aside. Cook the beef bacon or beef fry over medium heat until crisp then add the garlic and onions and cook for another 5 minutes, until soft. Stir in the cabbage and coat with the beef drippings. Cover the pot and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the noodles and season with salt and pepper.
Would you believe this was actually my first time using dried beans?!? Up until I made this recipe, I had never soaked beans before. Totally worth it! Just sayin…
SLOW COOKER BOSTON BAKED BEANS
This is my favorite since I love the sweetness of the honey and molasses mixed with a punch of mustard.
1.5 pounds (around 3 cups) dried navy beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp salt
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup molasses
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic
1 onion, chopped
The night before you are ready to cook your beans, you need to soak them. Just place the beans in a bowl, cover with water and cover with a towel. Soak for up to 12 hours. The following morning, drain the beans, rinse off and place in the slow cooker. Mix all other ingredients with the beans, cover the slow cooker and set on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours. That’s it! Man, I love a good slow cooker recipe.
Okay, now breath! Lots of recipes and I hope you give them all a shot at some point. Maybe you can read Kane and Abel for your next book club meeting, or even just for yourself. And let me know once you’ve read the book and tell me what you think. We can have our own virtual book club right here. We’ll eat Boston Baked Beans and Polish sausages and talk about Jeffrey Archer’s brilliant words.