Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Help for Our Book Club

Attic Gal Rachelle says:

Last month, it was my turn to host our book club. I chose The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I'm so glad I did! It was one of the best book I have read in a long, long time! If you are going to treat yourself to a great summer read, make sure it is this book!

But this is not a literary review, it is a creative blog, so let me show you how I got creative with the book club.

An important part of the book was the Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit for the Poor Starving Children of Africa.

The Benefit, as they call it, included a silent auction, so I made the table look like the silent auction at the Benefit. There were things like silver candle sticks, embroidered hankies, a Tiffany collectible plate, an antique lace runner, and some embroidered pillow cases - just the kinds of things those ladies of Jackson would have bid on. I made bid sheets for each item, and even signed them in different handwriting by different characters in the book.

At the Benefit, some of the hottest items up for bid were the baked goods handmade by the help - especially this; Minny's Chocolate Custard Pie! If you read the book, you might be gasping right now. The ladies in my book club were actually brave enough to taste this one, though a few of them looked a bit hesitant. Don't worry. I didn't use Minny's secret ingredient this time.

Yes, Miss Hilly Holbrook. This one is for you!

I got the recipe on this blog. It was yummy.

And I also HAD to make Minny's famous Caramel Cake. The recipe for the frosting came from the author herself and it is INCREDIBLE!!! Basically, it is candy spread on top of a cake. Yum! No wonder it got top bids at the Benefit!

Never Fail Creamy Caramel Icing - from The Help

2 1/2 c. sugar
1 slightly beaten egg
1 stick of butter
3/4 c. milk
1 t. vanilla

Melt 1/2 cup of sugar in iron skillet slowly, until brown and runny. Mix egg, butter, remaining sugar, and milk in a saucepan and cook over a low flame until butter melts. Turn the heat up to medium and add the browned sugar. Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage or until mixture leaves sides of pan. This takes about 10 minutes. Remove from fire, let cool slightly, and add vanilla. Beat until right consistency to spread. If it gets too thick add a little cream. This will ice a 2 layer cake.

Reprinted by permission from The Junior League of Memphis, Inc. from “The Memphis Cookbook” © 1952; recipe submitted by Mrs. Phil Thornton, Jr.

It was so fun to be able to throw a fancy ladies' shindig and use just a little bit of my huge milk glass collection (thank you garage sales!) That punch bowl is my favorite piece! In it I had my favorite pretty party punch. It is so light and yummy! Here is the recipe:

Raspberry Lime Punch

1 can frozen concentrated apple juice
1 can frozen concentrated white grape juice
2 bottles ginger ale
1 pkg frozen raspberries
1/2 bottle sweetened lime juice (in the liquor section) - This is the secret ingredient!

And then, as a surprise, my friend Elizabeth brought us a little southern comfort - fried green tomatoes! It was kind of exciting, as I have never tried them before. The Help is set in the South, and it even mentioned fried green tomatoes, but I wasn't about to attempt them. Thanks for the treat, Elizabeth! They were delicious!

The food was good, and the book discussion was great. What a lovely evening with the ladies!


  1. Man, why did I have to be out of town??? Don't you know not to schedule anything amazing like this when I am out of town? Hee. Hee. What a treat for all those ladies that attended. Girl, you are simply amazing. I love you and the attention to details you add to everything you do. You make it so nice for everyone. Thank you for sharing with all of us. I bought the book but I'll for sure read it now with that recommendation.

  2. I put this book on hold at our public library back on April 12th and I'm now #56 on the waiting list! So, hopefully I'll be able to read it by the end of the year. :) And can you believe I grew up in Tallahassee, Florida (for 7 years) and never had a fried green tomato?! But my teenage taste buds probably wouldn't have tolerated them anyway.... Someday I'd like to try them. :)

  3. This would be a hard act to follow:) Such a fun book club event!

  4. My name is Teresa. i live in Uk I am reading The Help....such a fantastic book I cannot put it down.
    To think that here in the Uk in the 60's we looked to the USA aS a leader in freedom and all that dreadful prejudice and hypocrisy was rampant!!!
    how AMAZING THAT KATHRYN STOCKETT has managed to write it from the point of view of one who suffered such treatment.