Some women like to play card games. Some prefer to quilt together. Others simply enjoy chatting and learning from each other.
Women spending time with other women is important for the soul.
Ten years ago, a few women of color decided to gather, read and delve into the literary world. For me, Sistah Girls Book Club has become a path to discovery.
We established rules from the start. We would only have 12 members, the perfect number to fit around the dining room table. There would be a moderator, Sally Wilson, who would be responsible for notifying members and keeping us reading.
In the beginning, there were two sets of mother-daughter members in our group: Wilson and her mother, Lillie Mae Young-Middleton; and me and my daughter, Tracye Stormer. We were joined by friends Veronica Harvey, Vivian Pigler, Willie Mae Lewis, Denise Jones, Yvonne Young, Theresa Pringle, Claretha Brisbane andAlice Wright.
Harvey keeps records of the books we read, the activities we’ve enjoyed and our future plans. We go on retreats together. And sometimes we dress in attire that matches the era of the book we’re reading.
Wilson, who loves John Grisham novels, helped us appreciate his writing. When Harvey selected “The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man,” the writings of James Welden Johnson became a source of interest. A few members went on to read his actual autobiography, “Along This Way.”
With the selection of “The Warmth of Other Suns,” by Willie Mae Lewis, each member began to trace her relatives’ migration roots and we recalled the days when African-Americans rode segregated trains with their lunches in shoeboxes.
At our 10th anniversary gathering, Wright hosted the group, and each Sistah Girl invited a guest. Wright had selected “Dust Tracks on the Road,” by Zora Neale Hurston, our second read by Hurston.
Wright taught English in the Beaufort County School District, and her teachers’ instinct is always apparent in our meetings. Club members are not given a test, but you can be rest assured that she is thorough in her research and presentation.
We laughed recalling Wright’s selection of “Daughters of the Dust,” a Hurston book that was made into a movie and filmed in Beaufort. Some of our club members were even extras in the movie. When the film came out, we had a lengthy discussion of the book and then watched the movie. But at our next book club meeting Wright still wanted to talk about “Daughters of the Dust.”
We plan to meet Thursday at the Beaufort library to learn more about Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” This should hold us over until our book club retreat in Eatonville, Fla., where the annual Zora Neale Hurston festival has been held for 27 years.
Our book club retreats allow us to mix some fun into our discussion of books. Some become research endeavors of their own, such as the time we toured Fort Fremont at Land’s End.
Food also plays a big role in our club meetings. We tailor the menu to each book. The hostess provides the main components of the meal, and other members contribute side dishes.
Today I share with you recipes from our club.
2 bottles cranberrty juice
1 jar green cherries
2 quarts gingerale
2 cans Hawaiian Punch
2 quarts tea
1 small bottle almond extract
Mix ingredients, chill and serve. Add sugar to taste.
Source: Claretha Brisbane
1 1/2 cups applesauce
1 cup (2 sticks) margarine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the applesauce and margarine in a saucepan until the margarine melts, stirring frequently. Add the cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg and mix well. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and baking cocoa into a large bowl. Stir in nuts and raisins. Add the applesauce mixture and mix well. Spoon into a greased 9- by 13-inch cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake tests done.
Source: Sally Wilson
Chinese Chicken Wings
36 chicken wings
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
Preheat oven at 325 degrees. Disjoint the wings and discard the tips. Arrange in a single layer in a baking pan. Combine the soy sauce, sugar and brown sugar in a bowl and mix well. Pour over the wings. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn the wings. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn again. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Source: Theresa Pringle