It was our family’s summer custom while on the way to the beach that my mom would take my
sister and I to the corner store so we could buy something to read in the sun.
It was the year Judy Blume reigned supreme and, having already read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Blubber, and Deannie, finding a new copy of her latest novel on the bookstand made my little bibliophile heart burst with joy.
The book was Wifey and who knew it would be little Miss Judy’s first “adult” novel – bloody X-rated to put it bluntly and unbeknownst to my mother – she happily purchased my new book together with my bottle of Tahiti Treat and Roast Chicken flavored Hostess Potato Chips.
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It was to be the-most-eye-opening summer of my life. But hey, it was the ‘80s and it was nothing some Laura Ingalls Wilder or her little house on the prairie couldn’t balance out.
Well, 44 summers later, it’s that time of year again and for the next couple of months people just like me will be filling up their book bags for the beach, the cabin or for their staycation where, through the sheer power and magic of books, they can travel to Paris, Kenya, Manhattan or the Australian outback without leaving the comfort of their lawn chair.
Recently I talked to Dan, a fellow book lover who is also the founder of The Travel Book Club, so I could find out more about the book club and get some recommendations for my summer reads. Turns out she started The Travel Book Club as a way to meet people when she first moved to Port Moody.
“I always wanted to join a book club but was never invited because it’s usually kept to a few people who know each other.”
So, she applied for a community grant, did some advertising on social media and the rest is history.
She chose a travel theme because “after COVID, everyone was just itching to travel.”
Since the group started up a year ago, they’ve become good friends with one of the members, even helping her to plan her wedding! Of course, what would be a book club without food? With each book title they choose, The Travel Book Club prepares a menu to correspond to the country and culture the book represents.
I can only imagine how utterly delicious the tables have been with reads like From Scratch (Italy), The Henna Artist (India) and Against a Loveless World (Pakistan).
Prior to the book club Dan tells me she wasn’t much of a cook but after being surrounded by a group of incredible home cooks, she was inspired to give it a try. I mean, isn’t that what books do?
Whether you read something old, something new, something borrowed, or something, ahem, blue, books inspire, they educate, they expand our minds, they teach, they entertain and yes, they can open our ‘blooming’ eyes.
Motivational speaker Charlie Jones once said, “you will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” A book club that explores other cultures with an invitation for all will certainly help with that.
The Travel Book Club is set to resume in September and are happy to welcome new members. Contact Dan at email@example.com if you are interested.
In the meantime our local libraries as always will be hosting reading programs/book clubs throughout the summer as is Western Sky Books in Port Coquitlam; Check out their websites.
Gift from the Sea, Prawn Fritters
One of my much loved all time classic books is Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. Here is a recipe inspired by her book.
Serve prawns with a frosty Gewurztraminer Slush, your best beach read and you will have it made, in the shade, or the sun.
You will need one bag of uncooked large shrimp or prawns with tails on but casings off. I get a bag from Costco and then cook up as many as I think I will need. Defrost.
To make the batter
2 cups flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 2 or more chopped green onion, some of your favorite
spices. I added 1 tbsp. dried chives, 1/2 tbsp. smoked paprika, a pinch each of salt, pepper, and
Then add a tall can of beer or 1 1/2 cans of regular sized beer and mix.
The batter should be thicker than pancake batter – rather goopy. You can always test a prawn or two with this batter and then decide if you want to thicken up the batter with a tad more flour or thin it out with a little more beer. It’s all about preference.
Make sure defrosted prawns have been dried on a paper towel before dipping into batter.
Over medium-high heat, heat up a wide pan with 3-4 inches of vegetable oil. Once it gets hot, hold a prawn by the tail and dip into batter allowing the excess to drip off.
Then gently put the prawn into the hot oil, turning the fritter after about a minute when the batter on one side becomes nicely brown. When the other side of the batter is browned, take out with a slotted spoon, and drain on a paper towel before serving.
Tumble some quartered lemons on a plate and serve prawn fritters with the following easy dipping sauce:
Easy Dipping Sauce
Add 1/2 cup regular store-bought tartar sauce to a dipping bowl, add 1 tbsp. of lemon juice (or more if you like) and a tsp. of paprika or spice of your choice. It’s easy and delicious!
IMPORTANT NOTE: To make BIG prawn fritters like the ones in the picture, dip prawn into batter holding the tail as before, but stick a spoon underneath prawn, and gather up a spoonful of batter together with the prawn and gently “pour” the prawn and the extra batter from the spoon into the hot oil, twirling the spoon around the prawn so the extra batter covers all sides.
It’s super easy and you will get the hang of it once you do it – you can’t go wrong. You will be a pro! You will also be a star with your friends and family when you serve these! To also get Gewurztraminer Slush recipe go to, Succulent Sage Cooks: Gewurztraminer Slush From The Eldorado In Kelowna (taracooks.blogspot.com)