October 3, 2011

The Decade Divas

My claims to fame involve teaching Hockey Hall of Famer Brett Hull home economics when he was in Grade 9, touring and improvising with Mike Meyers in the Second City Touring Company, and being given the boot from a book club. Yup, I got kicked out. Okay – that’s a bit too dramatic even for me. The truth is I wasn’t invited back because I was too opinionated. Who? Moi?

I was hurt at the original let go, but after awhile I saw the humour in the whole thing. Seriously, who has ever been kicked out of a book club? I’m a trend setter.

My son had the flu in the summer of 2009 and after a trip to the ER, complete with an isolation booth and the doctor in a hazmat suit, we decided to quarantined ourselves to make sure that if in fact he had the dreaded H1N1 we weren’t going to be the ones responsible for taking out Toronto.

I live in a one hundred year old home right in TO and all the houses have front porches which become gathering points every summer. When I wasn’t administrating food, drinks, and mommyness to my son I sat on my front porch reading blessed books. I looked at this forced isolation as a gift so I could sit and read.

My neighbours Jen, Heather, and Erin would stand at the foot of the steps and we’d chat about life, the weather, and then the idea of a book club for the bleak winter months. Between the four of us we represent four decades of living – thirties, fourties, fifties, and sixties. So in January of 2010 the Decade Divas were born.

All of us are pretty great home cooks and Jenn is a chef so we decided to read only books that had something to do with food and then we would discuss the book over food from the pages of whatever book we chose.

We started off with very good intentions, but the Decade Divas rapidly turned into a food eating, wine drinking, and frivolity-making group of women who share an evening under the guise of having read a book. Some of us have, some of us haven’t. It doesn’t really matter. What matters is we are sharing an evening and we are having way too much fun.

We are an eclectic group. Between the four of us we’ve had 8 husbands, and been to 37 countries including Lichtenstein, Turkey and Japan. But our real forte is the fact that between the four of us we could design and build you a new house, cater and style any type of occasion, design you a website, manage your career if it was in a rock band, and administer nursing care. Yes, we’re a busy hive of activity.  We are women who love life and apparently drinking good wine.

The beauty of four decades is we offer each other different prospective based on our ages. We cover trendy, hip, love advise, baby advise, husband and/or significant other advise, life’s ups and downs, we cover it all   – we are wise, witty, and wonderful.

We’ve even been on Breakfast TV together!

On BT in the summer!

On the night we discussed Under the Tuscan Sun, my pick, I served an Italian inspired barley dish to raves and that was before three bottles of Italian vino (this night was a year before Erin was pregnant) and before we had our jam session which included bass and acoustic guitar, African drum, castanets, tambourines, and of course the piano.

We have had many, many theme nights – covering ethnicities, movies on food, books on food which some of read and others don’t, our female foodie influencers, food from the 1960’s, and out latest – a Black Box Event.

Heather brought a Black Box - there was sweet potatoes, parsnips, and blueberries in it!


The mystery ingredient - plantain!

Each of us brought three foods to my house and we created a dinner using all of them.

Most of the ingredients! Jen was late - so the beans, honey, and red kidney beans weren't there yet.


We had parsnips, blueberries, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, apples, honey, red kidney beans, Scarlett Runner Beans from the seeds I planted in Erin’s garden, leeks, plantains, egg bread, and raspberries!


Red Scarlett Runner Beans.

The fun was figuring out what to do with all of these amazing ingredients – because we had to use every ingredient! Plus we were allowed to use pantry items that would “fix” something!

So our menu was:

  • Warm leek and parsnip salad with dried cranberries (the fixer) and fresh sage and thyme from our collective gardens and the shelled Scarlett Runner beans, sautéed in extra virgin olive oil and then served with a splash of apple cider vinegar. Looked sort of awful but it tasted amazing!


Heather chopping parsnips!



One glass of red - stirring the leeks and parsnips!

  • Main course was a curry made with onions, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, plantains, and the red kidney beans. Totally yum – especially with the great glass of red wine I was serving! Sadly I was the only one drinking anything until Jen arrived! Erin is pregnant and Heather was not drinking to show sisterhood! (Sadly I may be shallow – because loved my one glass of red!)

The ingredients for the curry.


Onion goggles! They work!


The biggest can of beans ever!




It was amazing!

  • Dessert was a warm apple bread pudding that was sweetened with honey. Chopped apples, cubed egg bread, honey, eggs, fat free evaporated skim milk, cinnamon, and candied dried ginger. We added the raspberries and baked it off. Then made a warm blueberry honey sauce to drizzle over the top! It was sooo yummmm!

Apple bread pudding into the oven!


With blueberry sauce!


Here is the deal – Four decades of women offer such a wealth of wisdom. Start your own Decade Diva Club™. Meet once a month or once every other month. Plan to eat and drink around a theme and let the evening unfold. We know you’ll have an amazing time. Let us know what happens! Send us an email

Here’s to the power of women, young and old!

The Decade Divas!

6 Comments on “The Decade Divas

October 3, 2011 at 11:23 am

If you ever need an understudy for my decade, I will happily fill in. I love reading, love, love, love food and have been known to have fun.

My book club is called The Glories. We have been together since January 2001. There are 10 of us and depending on which year we are in, we can span 3 decades. I would be dead without them and so I go out of my way just to be well behaved enough to not get kicked out.

I can’t believe you got kicked out for being opinionated???? In our club, you risk getting kicked out if you’re not.

Would you ever consider being a guest at one of our meetings if you ever tripped into Ottawa? We would love to have you. You would be required to eat but not necessarily read the book.

October 5, 2011 at 10:51 am

I would be honoured to be a visitor at the Glories! I haven’t been up to Ottawa in a really long time but next time I am I will send you an email!
Peace, love and fibre,

Mary Ann Murphy
October 3, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Hi, Mairlyn – loved the above. Delicious and fun evenings!
Mary Ann

October 5, 2011 at 10:50 am

So glad to hear that you loved the story! We have so much fun!

October 3, 2011 at 7:38 pm

What a wonderful bond that you have created with your friends. Memories you are making will be cherrished, I’m sure. We should all be so lucky.

October 5, 2011 at 10:49 am

I count my blessing for sure! The Decade Divas are amazing women!


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