How did they get so tall? That's the question I ask myself every time my friends and I get together for another mother-daughter book club. Inspired by Shireen Dodson's book, The Mother-Daughter Book Club: How Ten Busy Mothers and Daughters Came Together to Talk, Laugh and Learn Through Their Love of Reading, a group of us, all
living in the same neighborhood and all with daughters the same age, decided to read a book together and meet monthly to discuss it.
Our daughters started out in kindergarten, and now each one is in her last year of middle school and getting ready to make the transition to high school. Most of the girls go to different schools and only see one another when we set a date for book club. We've moved on from picture books, and past Mr. Popper's Penguins (loved by all) and Old Yeller (the mothers cried; the daughters did not) to more sophisticated young-adult fiction like Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.
Yvette Conte and her daughter, Lucy, hosted this month's meeting, and in their large, comfortable kitchen, Yvette created a choose-your-own-pasta feast with both red-pepper and basil pesto, meatballs and marinara, shrimp, and shaved Parmesan.
Most book clubs have a tendency to devolve into excuses to meet and drink wine with friends. The book usually gets short shrift, and this book club is no different. We started with high literary ideals: Each girl hosting the meeting is supposed to come up with a set of questions to spark conversation about the book — and each one does, but how long we spend on them is wildly variable.
However, we discovered that, although we still read and discuss the book, the opportunity to see each other and share good food and wine (for the mothers) helps us strengthen those bonds that get a little frayed in the day-to-day world
of differing school obligations, extracurricular activities and ordinary family craziness. The time together is more tangible and is most valuable to us all.
Yvette Conte's Basil Pesto
- 1/2 cup of pine nuts
- 1/2 cup of walnuts
- 1/2 teaspoon of coarse salt (or more, to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 3 cups (or more) of loosely packed fresh basil leaves
- 4 ounces (1 cup) of Asiago cheese, grated
- 2 ounces (1/2 cup) of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
- 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
In food processor, combine pine nuts, walnuts, salt, pepper,
garlic and basil. Pulse until finely chopped. Add cheeses and blend until smooth. With processor running, add olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Blend well.
Store in the refrigerator up to one week or place in tightly
sealed, freezer-safe containers and freeze up to five months.