Simple Good and Tasty Launches Its Own Bookclub Tonight

Tonight kicks off the first month of the SGT book club. And let me just tell you, books and food are two of my favorite things in the world, so I couldn’t be more excited to jump in! 

To get us started simply, succinctly, and smartly, we’ll be taking a walk through Food Rules by Michael Pollan, whom you – oh I don’t know – may have heard of? I personally love this sharp little book for introducing a new way of looking at our food consumption. While researchers, scientists and nutritionists sometimes overwhelm us with complicated terms and concepts, Pollan manages to boil it down to 64 simple things to think about when considering your diet. And they each fall under one of his easy-to-grasp headings:

  1. Eat food.
  2. Not too much.
  3. Mostly plants.

When I see people I love struggling with their weight or medical conditions attributable to the Standard American Diet, this will be my new go-to. It’s also a great place to start for people who are taking a closer look at where their food is coming from, how it’s being handled, and how it’s contributing to an overall lifestyle of health.

Our first meeting is being co-hosted by our friends at Mississippi Market Co-op, and their Jan Grover has pulled together some discussion questions for us. Some of the concepts we’ll be considering:

  • The ideology of “nutritionism.”
  • Where you choose to draw the line on “edible foodlike substances,” a.k.a. the products found on the grocery shelf today that your great-grandmother wouldn’t identify as actual food.
  • This fantastically diet-streamlining rule: “Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.”
  • How you might introduce fermented foods into your diet…and why.
  • The reality – and implications – of the fact that Americans spend far less money (as a percentage to income) on food than anywhere else in the world. And why it has nothing to do with our income.
  • The role snacks play in our everyday consumption.
  • And really, why do we eat so darned fast?

[This just in: The Harmony Co-op in Bemidji, under the leadership of Sue Doeden and Lisa Knights, will also be hosting its own SGT bookclub tonight. If you’re interested in starting an SGT bookclub in your community, great! Just let us know so we can get you sync'd up with us.]

In order to help us think about integrating seemingly dry and boring “rules” into our diets, we also asked Kristin Hamaker of Farm to Fork (a personal chef/catering service) to help us consider these rules in a more inspired, delicious way, e.g. tempting recipes. We hope you enjoy her creations... and we look forward to hearing from you about Food Rules.


Serves 4-6


¾ pound of mushrooms, wiped and thickly sliced (preferably white button or cremini)

1 Tablespoon of unsalted butter

2 Tablespoons of chopped marjoram (or tarragon or chives)

Salt and pepper

8 to 10 pieces of white sandwich bread

4 eggs

2 cups milk

8 ounces of shredded Fontina cheese (or Swiss cheese)

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Butter or oil a two-quart dish and set aside.

Heat a wide skillet on medium-high heat and add the butter.

Once the butter has foamed, toss in your mushrooms and leave alone to brown for a few minutes.

While your mushrooms are browning, you can choose to either tear up your bread slices or leave them whole (crusts are optional).

Whisk your eggs lightly and add the milk.

Now, add your herbs to the mushrooms and shake the pan a bit. Allow the mushrooms to sit again for another few minutes. (You want your mushrooms to brown and gather flavor, so don’t toss them too much in the pan.)

Once the mushrooms are browned and cooked, add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

Add the mushrooms to your egg and milk mixture along with the shredded cheeses and a bit more salt and pepper. Give it a quick swirl with a wooden spoon or spatula to mix.

Pour a little of your egg mixture on the bottom of your dish. Layer your bread on top and pour 1/3 of the mix over that layer of bread. Add another layer of bread and then pour another 1/3 of the mix over that. One more time, add your final layer of bread and pour the rest of the egg mixture on top. Press the bread down gently to make sure that it’s completely coated.

Create a bain marie, or a water bath, in which you’ll place your egg-based dish in order to manage heat. To do: place a few paper towels on the bottom of a larger roasting pan that will accommodate your bread pudding dish and then place your dish on top of the paper towels. Pour hot water into the pan to come one-half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the dish.

Gently and carefully place your bain marie in the oven. Bake for about 45 minutes or until lightly golden and bubbling. Serve with potatoes or a crispy, green salad.

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Makes 8 three-inch tarts

Ingredients – Galette dough:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour, plus extra for rolling out

1 teaspoon sugar, plus extra for dusting tops of tarts

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon baking powder

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits

3 tablespoons sour cream

Cornmeal, optional (replace a little of flour with cornmeal if you’d like a grittier crust)

Cold water, as needed

Ingredients – Fruit Filling:

6 cups of ripe, seasonal fruit (peeled, pitted and cut into ¼ inch slices), such as pears, plums, peaches, berries, cherries, or rhubarb

A few tablespoons of lemon juice

3 tablespoons to ½ cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of the fruit)

Optional flavorings include vanilla bean seeds, ground spices, freshly minced herbs such as thyme or rosemary, fresh grated ginger, or a few tablespoons of liqueur.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Instructions: Galette dough

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder (and cornmeal, if you’re using it) in a medium bowl.

Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture with your finger tips or a pastry cutter. Work quickly until it resembles a very coarse meal.

Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Add the sour cream and blend with the flour-butter mixture with a pastry cutter or a fork. Knead and squeeze the dough a few times to incorporate any loose bits. (You may need to sprinkle a little bit of cold water into the mix if it seems too dry or coarse).

Gather the dough together into a rough ball (it will be a coarse mass), flatten it into a 1-inch thick disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

(This dough can be refrigerated, well wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to one month. If it has been frozen, defrost in the fridge for several hours before using.)

Instructions: Tarts

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and insert a baking stone if you own one.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into eight pieces and roll each portion into a circle about four inches in diameter.

On a lightly floured surface, divide the dough into eight pieces and roll each portion into a circle about four inches in diameter.

Transfer the eight pastry circles – these will be the tart shells – onto a baking sheet and refrigerate while you are preparing the fruit.

In a small bowl, combine one tablespoon of sugar with two tablespoons of flour (or 2 ½ tablespoons for very juicy fruits, such as berries, rhubarb, and cherries).

Place the fruit in a bowl and toss it with the lemon juice, sugar and any optional flavorings.

Remove the eight pastry circles from the fridge.

Sprinkle the flour-sugar mixture evenly over each circle, leaving a one-inch border all the way around uncovered.

Arrange one eighth of the fruit filling evenly on top of the flour-sugar mixture of each pastry circle.

Fold the edges of the circles over the fruit. Moisten your fingers with water and gently press the pleats so that they hold together and form a tart.

A sliver at a time, shave the cold butter over the fruit of each tart and sprinkle each with a pinch more sugar.

Bake the tarts until the crusts are golden brown, the fruit is tender, and the juices are syrupy, about 15 minutes. Check them halfway through the cooking time, and if the crusts are browning too rapidly, cover the tarts.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Tracy Morgan is a Twin Cities foodie, cookbook hoarder, and owner of all the right kitchen gadgets. Living in downtown St. Paul, she loves to take her green trolley shopping at the Farmer's Market and see how much weight it can handle. When not spotlighting local goodies for Simple Good and Tasty, Tracy runs Segnavia Creative, a business development and marketing firm that helps small companies create big-picture strategies, understand branding, and navigate social media. She also serves on the board of directors for the Mississippi Market Natural Food Co-op.