I am only THREE days away from a week long vacation. A vacation in which I have promised my husband that I will not do any work and I will actually relax and enjoy myself. I. CAN. NOT. WAIT. These last few weeks have been crazy busy as I attempt to meet deadlines, write insanely long book chapters and articles, edit things, and oh yeah, actually treat my clients.

You might be thinking that with all of this academic nonsense taking up my days (and nights. and weekends), a relaxing activity would involve sitting in a dark room totally devoid of stimulation. But alas, I’m a nerd through and through. My favorite thing to do to relax is to curl up with a good book. When I don’t have time for that, I kick my shoes off and listen to an audio book as I drive from place to place. If you ever want to log just how many hours you spend in the car, see how long it takes you to get through a 15 hour audio book.

As if this didn’t already make me a huge nerd, I am in several book clubs. Now, don’t throw things at me yet. I may be in several, but I am less than active in one and almost completely out of another due to my crazy work schedule not lining up with the only day other people in the book club can meet. That leaves me with ONE book club for which I am faithful reader and active attender of meetings. A couple weeks ago, I hosted our book club for The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. If you don’t get intimidated by length (7oo some odd pages or 32 hours of audio book listening – eek!), this is totally the book for you. Plus, it’s getting all kinds of literary praise which would mean you’d not only be entertained, but you’d be totally hip.

Anyway, usually we do a pot luck style meeting so that no one gets stuck cooking all day, but this book is full of delicious food and food is also at the base of many important moments. I decided to pull a few recipes that would honor its deliciousness. In addition to making kielbosa with summer squash and having chips and dip (if you read the book, you’ll know why this is necessary), I made cheese on toast. This was not only a seminal moment in the book, but amazingly yummy for anyone who who likes cheese, roasted tomatoes, and toasted bread. Apparently it’s called Welsh Rarebit (who knew?!)

Welsh Rarebit (adapted from Yummy Books)


  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp mustard powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • ¾ cups ale – any kind is really fine
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ lb sharp cheddar, shredded
  • ½ lb mild cheddar shredded
  • 1 baguette, cut into slices (like you would do for bruschetta)
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Melt your butter in a large heavy-bottomed pot and add flour. Whisk constantly over medium-low heat until toasty-brown.   first
  3. Add mustard powder, cayenne, and black pepper and whisk until smooth.
  4. Add beer and Worcestershire and whisk until there are no clumps. photo 4
  5. Add cheese, stirring constantly until it’s smooth. photo 3
  6. Remove from heat and set aside.
  7. Spread cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet lined with tinfoil and sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 20 minutes. Remove from oven and crush with a fork so that they don’t explode when you bite into them.  photo 5
  8. Meanwhile, lightly toast your bread.
  9. Once bread is toasted and tomatoes are crushed, spread the cheese sauce in a thick layer on top of your toast, put a couple tomatoes on each piece, and put them on a pan for the oven.
  10. Broil for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and lightly browned.  photo

Next time I will probably add some salt to give the cheese a little more flavor, but this was overall pretty yummy, and perfect for a mid-day get together. Plus, it made my book club kind of excited to do more “book-themed” foods for our future meetings! Our new book is called The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman. It, too, is getting some great reviews, and I am about two hours into my audio book. I’ll report back on my impressions.

In the meantime, here are some other books I’ve recently read that I’d recommend:

  • Family Dysfunction: This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  • Fast paced action book: Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
  • If you liked Gone GirlThe Dinner by Herman Koch
  • Memoir: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
  • WWII era fiction: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (great as an audio book)
  • Just a good book: We Are Water by Wally Lamb
  • Young Adult series you’ll be shameless addicted to: Divergent by Veronica Roth

So dig your toes in the sand, prop them up on the furniture of your choice, or keep them safely planted on the gas pedal as your cruise along with your book blaring through your car’s speakers. Happiness is a good book, after all.