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THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY

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“Our Friday night book club became a refuge to us, a private freedom to feel the world growing darker all around you but need only a candle to see new worlds unfold.”The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

There are times when you read a book that just makes you smile and that’s completely the case with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Also, what better way to start off a book club than to choose a story about a writer bonding with the residents of Guernsey as she learns about the book club they formed during the WWII German occupation. It’s a lovely story about how books can serve as a bond and can bring comfort even in the darkest of times.

“None of us had any experience of literary societies, so we made our own rules: we took turns to speak about the books we’d read. At the start, we tried to be calm and objective, but that soon fell away, and the purpose of the speakers was to goad the listeners into wanting to read the book themselves. Once two members had read the same book, they could argue, which was our great delight. We read books, talked books, argued over books, and became dearer and dearer to one another.” -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Authors

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society which was first published in 2008 has two authors, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. The primary author Mary Ann Shaffer, an American and former librarian, had originally planned to write a biography about Kathleen Scott, the wife of the English polar explorer Robert Falcon Scott. In 1976, her research for the book took her to Cambridge, England, where she became discouraged finding the Scott’s personal papers were nearly unusable. Putting aside her frustration, she decided to spend some time in England visiting Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Unfortunately, as soon as she arrived at the airport it was shut down due to heavy fog. While waiting for the fog to lift Shaffer visited the airport’s bookshop and began reading a collection of histories of the German occupation of the islands during World War II. One book that she came across in particular, Jersey Under the Jack-Boot, grabbed her attention and Shaffer’s fascination with the Channel Islands began.

Image Credit: Random House

Shaffer many years later, naturally thought of Guernsey when encouraged by her own book club to write a book, then the idea of writing an epistolary novel, which is a novel written as a series of documents, came to her. The manuscript was greeted by her family, her writing group, publishers around the world with eager enthusiasm, recognizing the book as a true gem.

But why is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society credited to two authors? Shortly after the manuscript was sold, Shaffer’s health declined and her niece, Annie Burrows, a successful author, took on the task of editing the book. Sadly, Shaffer passed away in early 2008 without seeing her book in print.

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive – all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Overview of the Book

“Why did a roast-pig dinner have to be kept a secret? How could a pig cause you to begin a literary society? And, most pressing of all, what is a potato peel pie – and why is it included in your name?” -Juliet Ashton

Set in Britain’s post-war reconstruction in 1946, the story opens with successful writer, Juliet Ashton suffering from a combination of writer’s block and post-traumatic stress from living through the Blitz years in London. Then a letter from a stranger, who was a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, sets in motion an extraordinary tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as remarkable as its name.

A blossoming correspondence with Dawsey Adams begins after he explains that he acquired a book Juliet once owned and enquires whether she knows of a bookshop in England where he can buy another title by the same author. Over time Juliet feels drawn to the island, to Dawsey, the other members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society people and their stories of the war years. Juliet accepts an invitation to attend one of their literary meetings. However, the stories shared in letters during the correspondence did not tell the whole story of the island’s struggle under German occupation and how, or why, the Society was formed and how it acquired its name.

The Society at first, was a cover for the killing, cooking and consumption of a contraband pig. Over time, however, the Society had become a focal point of resistance to the anxiety of occupation, where members could feel free to speak their minds about literature, even as their meager rations led to the eating of potato peel pie at their evening gatherings. More secrets are shared and revealed to Juliet by the Society and as she learns the truth behind the disappearance of one of the Society members she begins to question her own feelings for the fiancé she left behind in London. Juliet feels a true kindship with the people of Guernsey who have captured her heart, especially Dawsey.

Guernsey Ginspiration

“Miss Isola Pribby, another neighbor, provided the gin, which makes herself, along with other herbal remedies and home cures.”

This is a story that inspires a longing for books, food and Gin! Why Gin? During the war alcohol was scarce but in the book, member Isola has a stock of home-brewed liquor to help keep the Society’s spirits up. Guernsey was finally liberated on 9th May 1945, five years after the occupation began and that was a lot of time for Isola to distill and infuse a plethora of gin with flavors gleaned from the island.

“..and lives in a glorious little cottage, ceiling strung with drying herbs; her very own apothecary.”

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Cocktail Time with JAZ Spirits

“I’ve seen enough. I need a drink.” -The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

To pay tribute to Isola and her homemade Gin, this month Jill and I are sharing some of our favorite cocktail recipes made with JAZ Spirit Craft Gins. On my last blog post, Embracing Nature with JAZ Spirits I shared more about this Oregon Distillery and the Owner/Distiller Faith Dionne.

JAZ Gin and Sparkling Pink Kombucha Slushie

JAZ Gin and Sparkling Pink Kombucha Slushie
Recipe by Jill’s Gourmet Dreams

Ingredients:
1 oz JAZ Spirits Riverain Dry Gin
3 oz Synergy Raw Kombucha organic drink “Heart Beet” flavor
Juice of half a fresh lime
1 Tbsp. Nature’s promise Blue Agave Nectar liquid sweetener
Pomegranate Seeds
12-15 Ice Cubes
*Optional Garnish: edible red glitter (Amazon), cucumber slice, berries, fresh mint

Method:
In a blender, add the JAZ Gin, kombucha, fresh lime juice, agave sweetener, and ice.
Blend on high until drink is slushie consistency. Fill cocktail coupe glasses first with some pomegranate seeds, then pour slushie mixture on top.
Garnish with edible red glitter, more pomegranate seeds, and a toothpick with threaded cucumber, berries, and fresh mint leaf.

Photos of JAZ Gin and Sparkling Pink Kombucha Slushie by Jill Sonlin, Jill’s Gourmet Dreams

I developed this delicious and vibrant JAZ Gin cocktail recipe simply to add fun, health-boosting fizz, and some unexpected sparkle to your book club gathering! -Jill

“..her tote is filled with homemade gin-filled bottles.”

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Cold Tree Gin Aperol Spritz

This is not a new cocktail recipe, but the addition of Cold Tree Gin with it’s smoked spice flavor simply elevates this classic to a whole new level of fabulousness. Add a slice of blood orange and this is a cocktail that would liven up any book discussion. -Elaine

Cold Tree Gin Aperol Spritz

Ingredients:

  • 1 Oz. JAZ Spirits Cold Tree Gin
  • 1 Oz. Aperol
  • 4 Oz. Prosecco
  • 1 Slice of Blood Orange

Method:
In a large cocktail or wine glass pour in the Cold Tree Gin, Aperol and Well Chilled Prosecco. Stir gently, then garnish with a slice of blood orange.

Jaz-y Blackberry Gin Sling

The combination of Rosemary, blackberry and lime perfectly compliment the robust botanical aromas and flavors of this JAZ Spirits Riverain Dry Gin. A delicious fruity cocktail that will certainly ‘Jaz’ up your next book club get together. -Elaine

Ingredients:

  • 8 fresh blackberries
  • 1sprigs rosemary
  • 2 oz JAZ Spirits Riverain Dry Gin
  • 1.5 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz simple syrup (or blackberry simple syrup)
  • sparkling water
  • For Garnish-Rosemary sprigs and blackberries

Method:

  • Gently muddle blackberries and one sprig of rosemary into each glass.
  • Remove the rosemary, add Gin, lime juice and simple syrup then gently stir. Fill the glass with ice and top with the sparkling water.
  • Garnish with another sprig of rosemary and a couple of blackberries.
  • *Mix in a cocktail shaker and strain if whole blackberries are not desired in your cocktail.

‘Just give me books, friends, and food (in that order) and I’ll be happy!’

Many years ago my good friend and roommate Ann and I would choose a book and read it at the same time, our own small book club, then we planned a meal to share that highlighted food from that title to enjoy as we discussed the book. I remember a special Mexican meal that we made for the book “Like Water for Chocolate” by Laura Esquivel and how we invited other friends to join us. It didn’t matter that they had not read the book, we just wanted to share our homemade creations and the spend night chatting with them while we ate and sipped Margaritas. With Drink In Life Book Club, Jill and I will be sharing recipes each month, inspired by the book to give you some ideas of a special dinner you can make when you have finished the book or to create and share with your own in person book club.

We hope you enjoy our Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society inspired recipes.

The Secret Roasted Pig

The residents of Guernsey Island faced confiscation of property and food, as well as restrictions on certain goods during the five-year German Occupation. Fresh meat and other pantry staples were difficult to come by yet the resilient people of Guernsey did what they could to feed themselves, including hiding food from the Germans. In Dawsey’s first letter to Juliet he writes;

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society came into being because of a roast pig we had to keep secret from the German soldiers.”

Gin Infused Kurobuta Roasted Pork Chops

In the movie version there are scenes where the character of Eben Ramsey says, “Sweetest pork I’ve ever tasted, Dawsey!” and you see Dawsey pulling that roasted pig out of the oven in a flashback. I hope that these pork chops would bring out the same reaction.

Gin Infused Kurobuta Pork Chops

I wanted to keep this recipe simple but flavorful! The goal is to let the pork chops absorb the spice flavors of the JAZ Spirits Cold Tree Gin and the sweet smoky juniper notes of the rub. It is delicious and I think the members of the Guernsey Secret Society would have approved. -Elaine

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 Kurobuta Pork Chops
  • ½ cup JAZ Spirits Cold Tree Gin
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp Juniper Berry Spice blend
  • 2 tbsp garlic olive oil

Instructions
 

  • *Prepare the pork chops first thing in the morning so that they have time to absorb the flavors of the gin and spice rub.
  • Brush the gin over the surface of the pork chops and allow to sit while you prepare the rub mixture.
  • Combine the brown sugar, paprika and Juniper Berry Spice blend, mix thoroughly until well blended.
    Pat the rub on all of the surfaces of the pork chops. Refrigerate for as many hours as you can; 6-8 hours is ideal.
  • Bring the rubbed pork chops out of the fridge to let them come to room temperature (at least for 30 minutes) and then heat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • Heat up garlic olive oil in cast iron or oven safe skillet on medium high. Add the pork chops and brown each side for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, insert meat thermometer and set for 145 degrees. Place skillet on center rack in the preheated oven and cook until pork chops reach 145 degrees. Cooking time needed will depend on the thickness of the pork chops, the Kurobuta Pork Chops took approx. 25 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
  • When pork chops reach 145 degrees remove the skillet from the oven and let the pork chops rest for 10 minutes.

Notes

The Oregon Trail Juniper Berry Spice Blend that I used was from the Savory Spice Shop and is no longer available. There are other blends available from various spice stores or you can create your own blend. Combine 2 tsp each of garlic salt, crushed juniper berries, coarse black pepper, lemon peel, orange peel, onion powder, ground rosemary, ground cumin and 1/2 tsp nutmeg. Adjust the spice blend as needed. 

Potato Peel Pie

In the book, the offering of the Potato Peel Pie was not shall we say, edible. In the movie version of the book there is a great scene where Juilet is literally gagging on this pie. The recipe for the original pie, is available on The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book website. This very sad pie contains just a potato, a beet, and a drop of milk, it is authentic to the World War II occupation and how difficult it was to find food to eat on the island during this time.

Chef Jill took on the challenge to reinvent the Potato Peel Pie, I think that she scored a home run with this delicious and stunning recipe.

Photos of Potato Peel Pie Stacks by Jill Sonlin, Jill’s Gourmet Dreams

Potato Peel Pie Stacks

Jill’s Gourmet Dreams
This artsy side dish is an updated version of the original potato peel pie recipe found in this month’s book club read, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”. It will have you in awe at the ease of making such a pretty little stacked potato peel pie masterpiece, as well as loading your body with so many healthy ingredients in one dish! -Jill
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 2 large Brown Baking Potatoes (Russet)
  • 2 large Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 large Red Beets
  • 1 cup Organic Baby Spinach
  • *2 Tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves (*more for garnish)
  • ½ stick Salted Butter, melted
  • *4 oz Olive Oil (*plus 1 additional oz)
  • Kosher Salt as needed
  • *Optional cooked Edamame garnish

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Scrub brown and sweet potatoes under water and dry thoroughly. Leaving skins on, rub olive oil all over the outsides of the potatoes and place in oven proof baking dish. Sprinkle with salt. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Peel beets with a vegetable peeler, cutting stems off and also root end. Rub olive oil over beets, sprinkle with salt, and place in their own small baking dish. Cover tightly with foil.
  • Place the potatoes and beet baking dishes in center of preheated oven.
    Bake for 45 mins. Then remove and cool to room temp. Once room temp, chill both in refrigerator one hour.
  • Once chilled, cut brown potatoes carefully into ½ inch circles (horizontal cuts) with skins on, neatly and kept intact.
    Then cut sweet potatoes the same way, ½ inch horizontal cuts with skins on.
    Once the circles are cut, carefully peel away the sweet potato skins off each piece. You can use a small paring knife to help if they don’t peel easily. Discard sweet potato skins.
  • Cut beets into same size and thickness circles as the brown and sweet potato discs. You can cut the beets into more exact sizes as the brown and sweet potatoes, so they all match in roughly the same size and thickness.
  • Melt the butter and add 4 oz of olive oil. Stir to combine.
  • In a cast iron pan, or any bake ware, use a brush to brush the cast iron bottom and sides with butter/olive oil mixture. Begin by adding one round of brown potato in the middle of the dish. Brush it with melted butter mixture and sprinkle with fresh thyme and a little salt. Top with two leaves of fresh spinach. Next add the round of sweet potato. Brush with butter mixture, add fresh thyme, pinch of salt, and fresh spinach leaves. Then finish the stack by adding a beet round, brush with butter mixture, thyme leaves, and a final pinch of salt. Top stack with a sprig of fresh thyme.
  • Continue making potato stacks in a circular form around the middle center stack until all potatoes/beets are used or dish is full. Drizzle any left over melted butter mixture over the stacks. Cover tightly with foil, and bake at 350 degrees F for 35-40 mins until fully cooked. Serve warm as is, or top with a sprig of fresh thyme, edamame, or baby greens.

Carrots to complete the meal!

We thought to compliment the Gin Infused Pork Chops and Potato Peel Pie Stacks we would add in another recipe that is easy and can be cooked in the same oven along with the pork chops.

Spiced Brown Butter Honey Roasted Carrots

This easy carrot side dish will surely pair well with any main dish, while it spices things up with hints of natural sweetness combined with cinnamon and allspice. -Jill

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups carrots peeled and ¼ inch thick sliced
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice

Instructions
 

  • Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F.
  • On a baking sheet with sides, place the peeled diced carrots on the pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and allspice. Combine all ingredients well using hands or spoon, until all carrots are coated well with oil and spices. Use additional olive oil and spices as needed.
  • Cook the carrots in oven until fork tender. Roasting time varies depending upon size of diced veggie. General cook time for ¼ inch thick carrot coins is roughly 20-25 mins, stirring well halfway through cook time. Use a metal spatula to flip carrots if they stick. If you wish to use whole peeled uncut carrots, then add an additional 10 mins cooking time.
  • Use a fork inserted into carrots to check for doneness. They are done cooking when caramelized on the edges, and a fork enters easily with slight resistance.
  • In a small saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Allow butter to continue to cook after melted until it gently bubbles and browns to an amber (caramel) color, approx. 1 min total. Take off heat, and add the honey. Stir to combine.
    Drizzle carrots with honey butter mixture.

Don’t forget Dessert…..

“A party without cake is just a meeting.”

Julia Child

Gin Thyme Apple Cake

This cake was inspired by the Traditional Guernsey Gâche Melée Dessert Recipe that I came across while researching the history of Guernsey Island. The addition of Gin and Thyme pays tribute to the Gin and Herbs mentioned in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I hope that you enjoy this botanical apple cake. -Elaine

Ingredients
  

  • 4 medium apples 3 peeled and chopped and 1 peeled and sliced
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme strip 5 sprigs of thyme and collect leaves, save the remaining leaves for the cake assembly
  • 8 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup JAZ Spirits Cold Tree Gin
  • Powdered Sugar for Dusting

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 350ºF.
    Coat an 8-inch round cake pan with cooking spray or butter, then line the bottom with a parchment paper round.
  • Peel and core 4 apples, dice 3 apples and slice 1 apple. Place in cold water with a splash of lemon juice to keep from turning brown.
  • Melt 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, set aside.
  • Whisk 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh thyme leaves together in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk 2 large eggs in a large bowl until fluffy. Add the melted butter, 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/4 cup gin, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, whisk until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Strain the diced apples and fold them into the mixture until just combined.
  • Place 7 Thyme sprigs on top of the parchment paper in cake pan. Strain the apple slices and layer them in a circle on top of the Thyme in the cake pan. Gentle pour the cake mixture over the top of the apple slices. Use a spatula to gently spread the batter evenly in the cake pan smoothing the top of the batter.
  • Bake 35- 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes before carefully flipping the cake onto a cake plate with the bottom side facing up. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
  • Storage: The cake can be well wrapped and refrigerated for a few days, or frozen for up to 2 weeks.

A Gin Pairing Cocktail

If you are looking for a cocktail to pair with the Gin Thyme Apple Cake try a Raspberry Gin Spritzer.

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce raspberry liqueur
  • juice from 1-2 lime wedge
  • soda water

Fill up a rocks glass with ice. Add the gin, raspberry liqueur and lime juice. Top with soda water. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy!

Jill and I hope that we have inspired you to make some of these cocktails and recipes to enjoy while you read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. We would love to hear your thoughts on these recipes and the book. Cheers everyone and we hope to see you soon at the first Drink In Life Book Club discussion.

Remember to join the Book Club Video Chat on Saturday June 19th at 1:00 pm PST/4:00 EST make sure that you are signed up to receive email notifications from Drink In Life (Email Subscription on right hand of the page) and Comment on this story post. You will receive an email invite to join the discussion.

Images, content and recipes © of Drink In Nature Photography/Drink In Life Blog and/or Jill’s Gourmet Dreams.

6 Comments on “Welcome to the Drink In Life Book Club

  1. All of these recipes look delicious! I can’t wait to try them.

    • Thank you Jaime, let me know if you try the recipes, I’d love to hear about it! Would you like invite to the live book discussion?

    • Thank you Rick. It is a fun way to enjoy the book and tie it in with great beverages and wonderful food! Thank You for reading the blog post! Cheers 🍸

  2. This is amazing. I can’t wait to read this book and try these recipes!

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