Welcome to The Word On The Street Book Club!

The Word On The Street has selected four great Canadian reads by authors appearing at the 2014 festival as part of our first summer book club.

We’ll be discussing the books each week throughout the summer, and on September 21st, everyone will have the chance to meet the authors in person at Queen’s Park Circle. ‘Tis the season for beach and park reading, so let’s get the conversation started!

If you aren’t an ‘official’ member of the book club, that shouldn’t stop you from joining in with your thoughts in the comments of the blog.

Click on the tabs above to check out the discussion questions our intrepid Book Club Leaders have come up with!


OakdaleDinnerClubcoverThe Oakdale Dinner Club
Kim Moritsugu

Book Club Leader:  Liz Reaney

A Toronto-based educator, Liz works hard to find ways to help students explore and utilize creativity to find success on their own terms, in and out of the classroom. She loves to volunteer within the arts and literacy culture scene in Toronto, specifically organizations catering to youth. She can’t list all her favourite books, but she loves The Mysteries of Harris Burdick,  by Chris Van Allsburg, Patti Smith’s Just Kids, and Nick Bantock’s Griffin and Sabine trilogy.

Take it away, Liz!

Part 1:

Welcome to The Oakdale Dinner Club book club discussion! I’ve attached one of my favourite dessert recipes from when I was a child. It’s from Fanny at the Chez Panisse: A Child’s Restaurant Adventure with 46 Recipes, by Alice Waters. I thought it would be fun to share our favourite recipes, given Moritsugu’s book!

I will be covering roughly eight chapters for each series of questions throughout the summer.

  1.  Mary Ann Gray has introduced us to Hallie Smith and her husband Sam Orenstein, her best friend Alice Maeda, Alice’s daughter Lavinia, Mary Ann’s husband, Chad the lifeguard, Mary Ann’s children Josh, Griffin and Kayla. What is is the purpose of having all these characters at the Oakdale Country Club pool together? How does this affect your assumptions about their lives?
  2. Moritsugu skips around in time. This is where we first find out about the bond that Mary Ann and Alice share. How do you think this has shaped their friendship? Are all close friendships like this on some level? How does this mirror your own friendships?
  3. Mary Ann’s decision to begin a supper club and to have an affair appear to dovetail. How will one affect the other?

1234 Cake

Active Time:  20 Minutes
Total Time:  45 Minutes

Two 8- or 9-inch layers

This cake is called 1-2-3-4 because it is a very old recipe and people could remember the ingredients by the numbers without having to write it down. This is what we make for birthday cakes. It is very good plain, or with lemon curd and fresh violets.


1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk


Turn on the oven to 350 degrees F. Measure all the ingredients and get organized before you begin to make the batter. The butter should be soft. Cut it into small pieces, and put in a large bowl. Measure the sugar and set aside.

Sift the cake flour, scoop into a measuring cup, scrape a knife across the top of the cup to level it, and measure 3 cups. Put the flour in a separate bowl. Measure level teaspoons of the baking powder and add to the flour. Measure the salt and add to the flour. Mix together.

Separate the eggs. Put the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. Have the vanilla ready, and measure the milk and set aside.

Butter the insides of two 8- or 9-inch cake pans. Rub a small amount of butter all over the inside; don’t miss the corners. Then put a tablespoon or so of flour in the pan and turn it all around so the pan is completely dusted with flour. Turn the pan upside down, and tap the edge on the table to let the extra flour fall out.

Now everything is ready to make the batter. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon or in a mixer until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat again until very fluffy and light yellow. This is what it means to cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks and beat them in briefly. Add 1teaspoon vanilla and mix it in well.

Next add the flour and milk in parts. Sift about half of the flour over the butter mixture and lightly stir it in. Exchange the spoon for a large rubber spatula, and pour in about half the milk. Use the spatula to gently mix the milk into the batter. Sift over the rest of the flour and stir it in. Pour in the rest of the milk and gently mix it in.

The last step is to beat the egg whites and fold them into the batter. Put the egg whites into a very clean metal bowl, and beat with a whisk or mixer. They will gradually thicken and get very white as you beat in air bubbles. When the whites are very fluffy and will hold a soft peak shape when you lift up the whisk, they’re ready.

Scoop up some of the whites with the spatula, add to the batter, and very gently stir them in. This will lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the rest of the whites. Then pour the rest of the whites onto the batter and begin to fold them in. Folding is more delicate than stirring. Use the spatula to lift up some of the batter from the bottom of the bowl and fold it over the whites. Turn the bowl a little and fold again. Do that just until the egg whites are mixed in. The air bubbles in the whites will give the cake a light and delicate texture.

Divide the batter between the cake pans, and put in the center of the oven to bake for about 25 minutes. When the cakes are lightly browned, and a toothpick stuck in the center comes out clean, they’re done. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

You can cut the recipe in half to make a single layer cake. Or a full recipe will make 32 cupcakes–fill the papers half full.

Get Cooking: http://www.cooking.com/recipes-and-more/recipes/1-2-3-4-cake-recipe-2960.aspx#ixzz36PNaTwFB



2 thoughts on “Welcome to The Word On The Street Book Club!

  1. Ooh, 1234 cake! What a clever name. I think this is a recipe I could actually remember how to make! Fun idea, Liz.

    I’m enjoying The Oakdale Dinner Club so far, and getting to know all the characters. So far I’m drawn to Alice. I didn’t quite understand why she and Mary Ann we’re such good friends at first, until the big reveal of their high school bond.

    I totally wasn’t expecting that development, but it’s a really interesting turn. I love how quickly the girls figure out what is going on, and decide to develop their connection and powers. Such a teenage reaction. I agree, it really does mirror the intensity of young friendship. I know I have old friends that I probably wouldn’t connect with so strongly if we met now, but the strength of the neural friendship pathways we created in the past keep us together.

    Can’t wait to see where Alice and Mary Ann’s adult friendship is going, and how this will come into play once the Dinner Club is launched!

  2. What a great recipe, Liz! I’m not much of a cook but the book is so full of delicious recipes I may have to try my hand at one.

    So far I’m enjoying the Oakdale Dinner Club. I especially like the way Moritsugu has woven all the characters together, giving us snapshots to their past and how they all came to be involved with one and other. The way the opening scene is framed it almost seems as though we will be experiencing the other characters through the perspective of Mary Ann and Alice but I think it’s interesting how the book has opened up. Each of the characters are developed individually over time and my perspective shifts as this happens.

    I agree with Cailin, I was surprised about Mary Ann and Alice’s friendship at first but their high school bond totally makes sense. I’m excited to see the other relationships that are developed as the book progresses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s