Food & Drink

Summer reading works up appetite

There are books and then there are books. There are the ones you choose to read and can’t wait to finish just because it is on a book list. There are others that you can’t wait to turn each page because the plot is so good and the characters are realistic and interesting.

When I choose a book, I want one that will keep my interest. When I read, I sort of become a part of the happenings. Many times a character seems to need me as a pillow to lean on, and then there are characters that I just wish would wake up and do something — even if it’s wrong.

“Kinfolks” by Kristin Hunter Lattany is a richly rewarding novel of forgiveness and compassion, making amends and letting go. Your mind will wander to your kitchen as this novel’s unfolding stories are told by friends around the table — one of the main character’s favorite foods is stuffed peppers. The story of two single mothers becomes interesting when they notice their children — who are engaged to be married — are both allergic to strawberries and have moles below their left ear. A search begins as there are questions to be answered prior to mailing wedding invitations — now that is a novel.

There always are cookbooks to read, such as “Always Enough Thyme for Great Friends, Fabulous Food and Spirited Fun” by Stephanie McKee, Diane Earl, Debbie Rubin, Phyllis Jones and Jan Tonroy. This group of friends took turns hosting a monthly dinner party at their homes in the 1980s. From their first cooking event in September of 1987, they saved the recipes and the menus. What began as a monthly “girls’ night out” in Lubbock, Texas, blossomed into a major cooking, traveling and sharing extravaganza that took place in many destinations on spring trips and fall retreats. This group has supported one another through births, divorces, deaths, promotions and all the other highs and lows of life. These are companions who consider the preparing and presentation of delicious food a vital part of their deep and joyous relationship. They share this love in their cookbook.

What a way to enjoy the summer — prepare something exciting while reading and relaxing.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. E-mail her at

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 bell peppers, any colorSalt5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil1 medium yellow onion, chopped1 clove garlic, peeled and minced1 pound ground beef11⁄2 cups cooked rice1 cup chopped tomatoes1 teaspoon dried oreganoFresh ground pepper1⁄2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceDash Tabasco sauce1⁄2 cup ketchup1⁄2 cup water

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cup top off peppers 1 inch from the stem end, and remove seeds. Add several generous pinches of salt to boiling water, then add peppers and boil, using a spoon to keep peppers completely submerged, until peppers become slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Drain, set aside to cool.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. nions and cook, stirring often, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Remove skillet from heat; add meat, rice, tomatoes and oregano. Season generously with salt and pepper. Mix well. All the ingredients could be placed in a bowl to make the mixing easier.Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil inside the peppers. Arrange the peppers, cut side up, in a baking dish, then stuff peppers with filling. Combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce and 1⁄4 cup water in a small bowl, then spoon over filling. Add 1⁄4 cup water to the baking dish. Bake for 40-50 minutes.

Apple-Carrot Muffins

2 cups flour1 1/4 cups sugar2 teaspoons baking soda2 teaspoons cinnamon2 teaspoons salt2 cups grated carrots1/2 cup raisins1/2 cup chopped pecans1/2 cup coconut1 cup Granny Smith apples, finely chopped1 cup vegetable oil3 eggs, lightly beaten2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Toss carrots, raisins, pecans, coconut and apples. Add the mixture to the dry ingredients. Beat oil into eggs, add vanilla and combine with carrot mixture. It will be very thick. Pour into greased muffin tins and bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes or until firm and lightly browned.

Recipe taken from “Always Enough Thyme for Great Friends, Fabulous Food and Spirited Fun”