Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chosen Chapters 50 to Conclusion

Flu is gone! Yay! 

We're done With the Book! Yay! Celebrate With a Feast courtesy of Ginger Garrett 

Just on Time for Valentines Day!

Perfect for book clubs or for entertaining friends, this Persian dinner can also create a romantic dinner for two, should you find yourself wooing a king.

Flatbread with Cucumber-Dill Dip
Herbed Feasting Rice
Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce
Roasted Lamb Kabobs with Mint
Rosewater Cookies

The Persian Dinner Recipes:
Persian food is a wonderful combination of exotic flavors and easy preparation. You’ll find the flavors are cool and mild with sweet hints of fruit and pleasant herbs. This menu will serve eight. If you wish, you may halve the recipes to create a romantic dinner for two.
To recreate the mood of Esther’s feast for Xerxes, be sure to have plenty of candles burning. Sprinkle a few rose petals across the table in remembrance of her beloved rose garden. If possible, set the feast on a low table, and invite your guests to recline comfortably on cushions as they eat.

Many grocers carry flatbread in the bakery section. If you can’t find a Middle Eastern flatbread to enjoy with your feast, it’s easy to make your own.
1. Simply purchase whole-grain pitas, and cut each one into four triangles by cutting down the middle in an “x” pattern.
2. Next, place pieces on a cookie sheet and roast at 250 degrees for 10 minutes, or until firm. Do not allow these to brown, as they will dry out.
3. You can give them a quick drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle these with garlic or onion powder before roasting if you would like a bolder flavor. But not too much—you wouldn’t want a repeat of Cyrus’s flatbread in the market! Cucumber-Dill Dip
This refreshing—and healthy—dip is meant to be eaten with flatbread. You can also enjoy it with your roasted meat and rice.
1 (32 ounce) container plain yogurt
3 cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients. For best flavor, make this the night before and refrigerate.

Herbed Feasting Rice
This rice is a delicious accompaniment for chicken or beef. Use fresh herbs if you can. This rice may be made the day before and reheated before serving.
4 cups uncooked long-grain white rice (may substitute jasmine rice if preferred)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped 
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups fava beans (may omit if your grocer doesn’t carry them)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

2. Cook rice according to package directions.
3. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on lowest heat for 5-10 minutes, or until well heated. If you have crispy rice on the bottom of the pan, this is considered a delicacy and served to the most favored guest.

Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce
This makes a beautiful presentation right from the pan. Pomegranate molasses can be ordered from your grocer, or is often found in whole foods and specialty stores. Save a few whole walnuts for a garnish.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each cut in half lengthwise
1 cup finely ground walnuts
1 (10 fluid ounces) bottle pomegranate molasses
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir-fry until soft and transparent, then remove them from the skillet.
5. Add chicken breasts, several at a time, and brown them on each side. Set them aside until all 8 have been browned. This will not cook the chicken thoroughly, but will seal in the juices before you cook the chicken again.
6. Place the ground walnuts into skillet. Turn heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are a rich brown color.
7. Place chicken and onions over walnuts in the skillet. Pour over this the pomegranate molasses. Turn heat down to low, and cover the skillet. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through. Before serving, arrange chicken in a starburst in the pan, and sprinkle a few whole walnuts in the middle and along the sides.

Roasted Lamb Kabobs with Mint
These kabobs are also delicious made with beef. To make preparation even easier, simply buy pre-made kabobs from your butcher, and prepare using the marinade.

2 pounds lamb or sirloin, cut into large cubes
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
1 green pepper, cut into thick wedges
1 (8 ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt 
1 onion, finely chopped 
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes, available with in the spice rack at most grocers (do not use mint extract)
8. Create kabobs, alternating meat with vegetables.
9. Combine all marinade ingredients and spoon over each kabob. Marinade 6 hours, or overnight.
10. Heat grill to high, then return to medium-high heat. Grill each kabob, turning as needed, until the center cut of meat is grilled to desired degree.

Rosewater Cookies
Rosewater adds a delicate Persian touch to any pastry or cookie and is the perfect ending to your feast. Rosewater is available from cake and pastry shops, or at specialty and whole foods stores. Orange water may also be substituted for a delicious Persian variation.
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rosewater
11. Cream butter, oil, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar. Add eggs and rosewater and mix gently.
12. Combine flour, cream of tartar, and salt and stir thoroughly, then gently stir into creamed ingredients.
13. Drop in small teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, but do not allow to overly brown.

Ginger Garrett is a novelist with a passion for exploring the lives of biblical women and understanding how their ancient stories impact our lives today. Ginger also enjoys writing nonfiction for women and teens. Beyond writing, her interests include supporting The For Pete’s Sake Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds for children with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome.
You can learn more about Ginger’s books, including her newest NavPress novels, by visiting her at her website: 


A few guidelines while participating in this book club
How to participate in a discussion
1. Watch your language! Try to avoid words like "awful" or "idiotic"—even "like" and "dislike." They don't help move discussions forward and can put others on the defensive. Instead, talk about your experience—how you felt as you read the book.

2. Don't be dismissive. If you disagree with someone else, don't refer to her as an ignoramus. Just say, "I'm not sure I see it that way. Here's what I think." Much, much nicer. 

3. Support your views. Use specific passages from the book as evidence for your ideas. This is a literary analysis technique called "close reading." (LitCourse 3has a good discussion of close reading.)

4. Read with a pencil. Takes notes or mark passages that strike you—as signficant or funny or insightful. Talk about why you marked the passages you did. 

5. Use LitLovers for help. Check out our Litlovers Resources above. They'll help you get more out of what your read and help you talk about books with greater ease.
(Discussion tips by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online of off, with attribution. Thanks!)

We'll conduct this discussion in a similar fashion as the bible study. I will post a series of questions. You can use them as a jumping off point for the discussion. Answer any you like, or none at all and come up with your own comments or questions.

At what point do you believe Esther’s feelings for King Xerxes became authentic instead of forced? Do you believe love is a purposed decision or a feeling over which you have no control?

When Esther had to confront King Xerxes with his error and beg for the life of her people, why do you think she chose to feed and dote on him for two nights first? Would you have chosen this strategy?

Have you ever had to confront someone who was much more powerful or influential? What happened? How did you feel?

When Xerxes trusted Haman as an adviser, how did the kingdom suffer? When Xerxes chose Esther and Mordecai as his closest advisers, how did the kingdom prosper? What insight does this give you in picking your closest friends?

In reviewing Esther’s life, what do you think served her better: her faith or her beauty? If you could choose between having great faith or great beauty, which would you choose, and why?

Is the ending satisfying? If so, why? If not, why not...and how would you change it?

Has this novel changed you—broadened your perspective? Have you learned something new or been exposed to different ideas about people or a certain part of the world?
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