Author Archives: jdandy

‘A Wife’s Tale’ by Aida Edemariam at Erin’s

Wonderful evening at Erin’s – the consensus was that it was a challenging read and the evening was highlighted by a delicious (and time consuming) authentic Ethiopian meal prepared by Erin.

We also agreed, that as so often happens, we enjoyed the book more after the discussion.

From Karen:

Thanks Erin for putting a great deal of effort in recreating the unique and delicious Ethiopian cuisine mentioned in A Wife’s Tale.  It was well worth the trouble and was a hit with the group as evidenced by all the second helpings.  By the way, should anyone be curious, it seems we have a good Ethiopian restaurant in Hamilton (  After trying last night’s meal, I am keen to give the restaurant a visit.  Please provide the links to your recipes on our blog.

I found “A Wife’s Tale” a difficult read and would have preferred to have the glossary expanded and moved (along with the timeline) to the front of the book.  That said, Yetemegnu’s life was inspiring.  Imagine a little girl, married at 8, unable to read, living a cloistered life with a husband who was 22 years older and forced to cope mostly alone, with Ethiopia’s turbulent political upheavals.  And yet she lived to see her grandchildren become educated professionals residing in different countries throughout the world!

From Bev: Karen raised some good points but may I add that reading a woman’s story set in another time and culture makes me thankful for the rights and freedoms I have in Canada. It also reminds me that women are always vulnerable and in times of adversity need to draw on their inner strengths to survive and in this case provide a better life for their children.

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Laura’s Recipes – Lee Bailey’s Lamb and Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie (and Greek Chicken Sheet Pan)

Lee Bailey’s Lemon Lamb with Yogurt

3 pounds boneless lamb, cut from leg

1/2 cup ouzo

1 cup beef stock

2 medium cloves garlic, crushed

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

6-inch sprig rosemary, leaves stripped off, or 1 tablespoon dried

2 medium bay leaves, broken into several pieces

2 dozen fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt, pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 cups chopped onions

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups beef broth

3 generous tablespoons coarsely chopped lemon zest

Generous dash cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 cup plain yogurt

Cooked rice

Lemon zest strips for garnish, optional

Mint sprigs for garnish, optional

1.       Cut lamb into 2-inch cubes. Carefully trim off all gristle, fat and connective tissue. You should wind up with about 2 1/2 pounds of trimmed lamb. Set aside.

2.       Combine ouzo, beef stock, garlic, onion, rosemary, bay leaves, mint, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper in large glass or ceramic bowl and whisk together. Add lamb, tossing lightly and pressing down gently so that it is completely covered with liquid. Cover tightly and marinate overnight in refrigerator.

3.       Remove lamb from marinade and pat dry. Discard marinade, then sprinkle lamb with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.

4.       In large, heavy skillet, heat oil and butter together over high heat. When very hot, quickly brown meat on all sides, placing it in large pot as it is finished. When all meat is browned, add chopped onions and sauté over medium high heat, until tender and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with flour and mix.

5.       Continue to cook, moving mixture around with spatula, until flour turns golden, another 3 minutes. Scrape mixture into pot with lamb. Deglaze skillet with beef broth and add to pot. Bring to simmer and add lemon zest, cayenne and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until lamb is tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in paprika and yogurt and serve over bed of rice. Garnish with lemon zest strips and mint sprigs. Makes 6 servings.

Greek Sheet Pan Chicken Dinner

Cook Time 30 minutes

Servings 4


• 3 tablespoons olive oil

• 2 tablespoons lemon juice

• 4 garlic cloves, chopped

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

• 2 teaspoons paprika

• 2 teaspoons oregano, dried or 1 tablespoon fresh

• 4 Chicken breasts, boneless

• 2 red peppers, sliced keep slices thick

• 1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges

• 8-10 whole garlic cloves

• 1 pound baby mixed color potatoes quartered red or yellow will work as well

• 1/4 cup crumbled Feta

• 1/4 cup kalamata olives

• 2 whole lemons cut in half


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine all marinade ingredients in small bowl.
3. Place sliced veggies on large sheet pan.
4. Place Chicken in and around the vegetables.
5. Pour marinade all over veggies and rub onto the chicken.
6. Arrange mixture evenly, and nestle sliced lemons around sheet pan.
7. Place in oven and roast for 30-35 minute or until veggies are slightly brown and chicken reaches 165 degrees.
8. Sprinkle with crumbled feta and kalamata olives.

Nora Ephron’s Key Lime Pie

Serves 8 generously


• 10 oz. Graham Cracker crumbs

• 1/2 Cup butter

• 6 egg yolks

• Zest of 6 limes, or 1 bag of key limes

• 1 Cup lime juice

• 2 tins condensed milk

• Container of whipping cream

• Zest of one additional lime


1 Preheat your oven to 160C. Melt the butter in the small saucepan and set aside to cool.

2 Stir graham cracker crumbs into the cooled butter. The mixture should clump back together – once it does, press it into aspringform pan dish, pushing it firmly into the corners and up the sides.

3 Place the crust in the oven for ten minutes until browned, then remove and allow it to cool.

4 While the crust is baking, beat the egg yolks until light and foamy. Beat in the condensed milk, and then the lime juice and zest. The acidity of the lime will react with the condensed milk, causing it to thicken and set without the need for baking. If you’re worried about eating raw egg yolks, do put it in the oven for ten minutes.

5 Pour filling into the cooled pie crust and transfer it to the freezer.

6 Leave the pie in the freezer for at least 6 hours (or overnight). Once you’re ready to serve it, remove from the freezer and slip the pie out of the springform. Leave it to sit for five minutes to defrost.

7 Beat the cream to soft peaks. Spoon the cream over the pie and zest a lime over the top. Serve in large slices.

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“I Feel Bad about my Neck” by Nora Ephron at Laura’s

Reading Nora Ephron’s “I feel Bad about my Neck” was the perfect summer read – I read it sitting on my porch on a lovely summer afternoon – laughing out loud, shaking my head and thinking about how lucky I was to be in that exact spot at that exact time.

Like Nora, Laura was a thoughtful host and prepared a wonderful meal using Nora’s recipes and we were all encouraged to wear a scarf and come prepared to play one of Nora’s “parlour” games:

“We have a game we play when we’re waiting for tables in restaurants, where you have to write the five things that describe yourself on a piece of paper. When I was [in my twenties], I would have put: ambitious, Wellesley graduate, daughter, Democrat, single. Ten years later not one of those five things turned up on my list. I was: journalist, feminist, New Yorker, divorced, funny. Today not one of those five things turns up in my list: writer, director, mother, sister, happy.”

From Karen:

A wonderful evening Laura – a definite highlight of my summer.  The meal was DELICIOUS and offering us a glass of good French champagne was such a treat.  Champagne is synonymous with celebration. And anytime we get together is cause for celebration!  (I wish my retirement budget allowed me to bring a bottle to every one of our gatherings).  Thanks also for giving us a well-researched and interesting lecture on Nora’s life.  I think the only thing missing from last night was Nora herself.  She would have enjoyed our conversation and would have fit right in.

From Jill:

Many thanks Laura, a truly enjoyable evening of great conversation, game fun, and a delicious meal! Recipes please! I love champagne!
As I lay awake last night, ( it seems to occur more as one ages..I hesitate to say in our old age:), and mulling over our conversations of how our lives unfolded and how we dealt with our circumstances, the word inspired came to me. When I think back over the years, I realize how many people have inspired me, helped me to think, to become and be a better person.
The other word is motherhood. As a woman, it was the greatest miracle and brought me such joy to bring a little human being into the world.
Thank you again Laura for choosing this book, and to Nora Ephron for writing it, and to give us much food for thought that enables us to give voice to our own vulnerability, awareness and destiny.

From Moira:

wonderful evening spent in the company of wonderful women- who could ask for more?! Many thanks Laura, for choosing the book and giving us such insight into Nora the person, wife, mother, screenwriter …. extraordinaire. Loved BOTH  the meals, and the scrumpdilyicious key lime pie. Please put up the recipes- I might actually attempt one of them, haha. 

PS I love the picture of Josee – reading her list 🙂

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Mid Summer Lunch

Eight members of our group were able to get together for an impromptu lunch at Paradiso Restaurant in Downtown Burlington for a lunch – Great opportunity to catch up on everyone’s adventures and garden successes. See everyone at Laura’s in August.

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Jeanne’s Bobotie and Yellow Rice

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‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah at Jeanne’s

A foggy night up on the escarpment – A very evocative  setting at Jeanne’s discussing Trevor Noah’s funny and tragic story of his life growing up in South Africa.  Everyone enjoyed the book and seeing his remarkable mother and grandmother interviews.

Thank you Jeanne for the authentic and delicious South African food including bobotie and the extra bonus of going home with heirloom tomato plants.

From Jill: Jeanne, many thanks. A true authentic African Bobotie  dish…and all the other delicious dishes! 
I so admire how Trevor Noah overcame all odds with his background, to become the interesting, caring  and humorous person he is today. 
A great utube showing of his ‘chat’ with his grandmother, what a strong and self possessed woman. She, and those of her generation are to be admired. I enjoyed our interesting discussion. 
Thank you also for the tomato plant. I’m looking forward to sweet tomatoes!

From Bev: A wonderful evening Jeanne. Great food, thoughtful preparation for discussing the book, and as always good conversation. 

From Erin: Agreed!  A delicious evening all round! I loved the opportunity to meet Trevor Noah’s mother and grandmother… true forces to be reckoned with!  And… I look forward to the tomatoes from your seedlings Jeanne.

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2019-2020 Book List

Host Date Book (*Chosen) Author
Jeanne 6/5/2019 *Born a Crime Trevor Noah
    Count of Monte Cristo Alexander Dumas
    The Fear Index Robert Harris
Laura 8/28/2019 Excellent Women Barbara Pim
    Cold Comfort Farm Stella Gibbons
    *I Feel Bad about my Neck Nora Nephron
Erin 11/7/2019 When Breathe becomes Air Paul Kalanithi
    *The Wife’s Tale Aida Edemariam
Jane 12/5/2019 First Person Richard Flanagan
    *Naive.Super Eland Loe
Bev 1/9/2020 *Instructions for a Heatwave Maggie O’Farrell
    Great Small Things Jodie Picoult
    The Wife Meg Wolitzer
Moira 2/20/2020 *Washington Black Esi Edugyan
Ann 4/9/2020 Beautiful Scars Tom Wilson
    *Son of a Trickster Eden Robinson
Jill 5/14/2020 *Home for Unwanted Girls Joanna Goodman
    The Great Alone Kristin Hannah
 Karen 6/17/2020  Country Dark Chris Offutt 
Boy Swallows Universe  Trent Dalton
     *Hold Still  Sally Mann
Josee TBD TBD  

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Chicken Curry

Chicken Curry

This is a super easy ‘cheater’ curry and a family favourite.

Note: I use Pataks brand products – never tried with other brands

Approximately 8 People


8 chicken breasts
1 jar Pataks Biryani curry paste
6 tablespoons of Vegetable Oil
1 jar Pataks Mango Chutney
1 cup Mayonnaise
2 cups Low fat yogurt
1 jar Pataks Vindaloo curry paste – you will only use a couple of teaspoons according to how hot you wanted – I would use 3-4 teaspoons for this quantity (the remaining curry paste lasts in the fridge)
1/2 cup of cilantro


I cut up all the chicken to 1 inch cubes and put into 1 large or 2 zip lock bags.

For the marinade:

In each bag add 3 tablespoons of oil and 1/2 jar of the Pataks Biryani curry paste and massage it all together and put in the fridge for a couple of hours (so you will be using the full jar and 6 tablespoons of oil if you have a large zip lock)

Now in a bowl (or in the casserole dish that you are going to cook it in), mix the Pataks Mango Chutney and the mayo and the yogurt and a couple of teaspoons of the Pataks Vindaloo all together.

Now empty all the chicken and marinade into the bowl or casserole and cook at 300 degrees for an hour or so.

Ta da – super easy curry 😎

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Cucumber Salad

2 long english cucumbers
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (or sour cream)
3 tablespoons mayonnaise or dressing (I used light)
1/4 cup fresh dill , chopped
3 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
salt to taste
1/3 cup very thinly sliced white onion

Peel the cucumbers and cut in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and slice into 1/4″ slices.
Combine all dressing ingredients and toss with cucumbers.
Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

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2018 Book List

2018 Book List

Ann – December 7
***Wonder – R.J. Palacio

Josee – April 12
***The Break – Katherina Vermette

Karen – January 18
***The Hearts of Men – Nicholas Butler
Beautiful Animals – Lawrence Osborne
The Girls – Emma Cline

Jane – March 1
***Lincoln in the Bardo – George Saunders
House without Windows – Nadia Hashimi

Laura – September 27
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
***Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

Bev – December 6
***Do Not Say We had Nothing – Madeleine Thien
The Last Neanderthal – Claire Cameron
The Lake House – Kate Morton

Jeanne – November 8 (Note: Date Change and book change!)

*** Educated by Tara Westover

***Born a Crime – Trevor Noah

What Happened – Hillary Clinton

Waking the Frog – Tom Rand

Erin – March 7, 2019

***Becoming – Michelle Obama

Jill: January 24 2019

The Childhood Jesus – J. M. Coetzee

Moira: May 2, 2019

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles


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