Apparently, eight hundred is the secret number of grapes it takes to make one bottle of wine. So when you come home after a long, stressful day, pop open a bottle and decide to indulge, you’re really just nourishing your body with an extra healthy dose of fruit! Well, okay… that’s not exactly how the story goes, but pour yourself a glass of your favorite red, anyway, in honor of the newest Freutcake Book Club selection, Eight Hundred Grapes, by Laura Dave.
I breezed through this book in just a couple of days and have officially deemed it my favorite novel of the summer. And I’m not the only one who feels this way; numerous magazines, including Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Marie Claire have named it “Best Book of the Summer.” I have extremely high hopes that you’ll feel the same!
Eight Hundred Grapes introduces us to its main character, thirty-year-old Georgia Ford, on a rainy evening as she makes her way into a tavern in her hometown in Sonoma County. She’s alone, sporting a disheveled bun, “deeply unsettled” eyes, and a wedding dress. Her wedding dress. I won’t give away any more details at this point, but the secrets surrounding Georgia and her family will keep you on the edge of your seat as they begin to unravel. The various characters deal with the all too real struggles of dissolving marriages, sibling rivalry, family loyalty, and deciding when it’s time to abandon everything for the sake of following one’s heart. This is all done amidst a backdrop of luscious vineyards, charming cottages, pink sunsets, and warm lasagna dinners. Details of the precious process of winemaking are woven into the story and will provide you with a deep appreciation of the art, if you didn’t already have one. You will truly feel like you’ve been whisked away on a wine country weekend getaway as you drown yourself in this novel. Just writing about it is making me want to read it all over again! So join me and Freutcake Book Club as we read (or reread!) Eight Hundred Grapes. Make sure to leave a comment below letting us know if you do, what you think, and if you have any other suggestions for future book club picks!
Get the Book: Eight Hundred Grapes: A Novel
photo by Christina Streit
Nothing says summer like peach pie but nothing sucks up a summer afternoon quite like making one! By the time you make the piecrust, peel the peaches, bake everything, let it cool…it might as well be fall already!
For the hasty hostess who wants the full stone-fruit experience without the fuss, this icebox pie is the perfect recipe. They’re ready in a fraction of the time plus they’re no-bake, so you don’t have to turn on the oven. We all know how steamy those late-summer days can be.
To give these dainty pies an extra grown-up twist, we cooked down peaches with brown sugar and a generous shot of bourbon. It’s a classic flavor combination for a reason. If you’d like, feel free to skip the booze but it really does add an extra caramel layer of flavor you won’t want to miss. Plus, the baker’s allowed to take a little nip while her pies cool—that’s the rule!
This easy technique taste great with other stone fruits, as well. Stop by the farmers’ market, pick up some produce and experiment with different combinations and cooking times: Plums and red wine, nectarines and sherry, peaches and peach lambic…the options really are endless.
If you’re willing to splurge on an extra ingredient, top these pies with a generous dollop of whipped cream or a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream (it’s probably in your freezer already, right?)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 5 peaches, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 shot bourbon or whiskey
- 1 (6-pack) container mini premade graham cracker crusts
- PANTRY STAPLES: Sea salt and vanilla ice cream / whipped cream (optional)
- Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the peaches, brown sugar and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches release their juices, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the bourbon. Return to the stove and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 more minutes.
- Divide the peach mixture among the graham cracker crusts. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.
This past weekend it was finally time to move into our new house! With the floors re-finished, the rooms painted, bathroom tile installed and kitchen almost done, the inside of our house is nearly complete. Although from the list of projects we still want to accomplish now and down the road, I’m guessing a home is never fully completed. Am I right?
Kitchen: Blame it on my pregnancy hormones or my nagging perfectionist nature but something just wasn’t feeling right about the back splash tile I chose for our kitchen. It was lovely: painted grey and cream hexagonal tile that Jason and I both fell in love with at first sight. But as the day approached for installation, I started getting cold feet about my design choice. So, the morning of I put a hold on everything, ran out and ordered entirely new tile for the back splash.
This time around I chose a simple all white lantern style tile that compliments the white subway on the opposite side of the kitchen and is much smaller in scale than my original choice.
After the white grout was added the wall looks so clean and simplistic but still reads as a pattern due to the shape of the tile. Just enough pattern to add character to the space without overwhelming the small kitchen.
In the end I am so, so glad I followed my gut on this one and ordered new tile! It might have been an extra expense but I know I will love this tile every day we live in this home and that was most important. Isn’t it pretty?
Hardwood Floors: One of my favorite features about this house was the “good condition” of the original hardwood floors. We knew from the beginning that having the floors re-finished would be the goal and we crossed our fingers that we would be able to save the hardwood beneath the layers of tile in the dining room nook.
I’ve always loved dark hardwood floors but after seeing the floors sanded to a beautiful natural finish I was almost tempted to keep them this light!
Sadly, there were a few spots throughout the house where the floors were too damaged to look good with a light finish so I chose a dark espresso bean stain. Cooler than I originally planned but so lovely against our light grey walls and white trim. Plus, I was told that over time the natural warmth of the wood will come out and warm the finish even more. Good tip if you are deciding on a hardwood floor stain!
Bathroom: Ah, the bathroom! When we first bought this house I believe my exact words to Jason were…”I’m not bathing babies in that bathtub!” If it were up to me I would have ripped out the nasty original 1950’s tub and started fresh. THANKFULLY, no one listened to me, ha! We were referred to a company who specializes in restoring and refinishing bathtubs like ours without the need to replace them. Now the tub is shiny, smooth, and so sparkling white you would never know it wasn’t new. (Hard to tell in my iPhone photo but it’s true.) Plus, it’s a great quality old tub and in the words of the gentleman who re-glazed it, “they just don’t make tubs like this anymore.” Well said tub man.
While we’re currently living out of boxes, lacking furniture in multiple rooms, and temporarily without a working kitchen; this little fixer-upper is already feeling like a home.
At least I can say that my bed is made, even if it’s the only presentable space in the entire house! Oh, and did I mention that this is the first time we’ve lived with central air conditioning? Best investment ever. Bring on the extra fluffy duvet!
For more glimpses of our renovation, follow along on my Instagram #FreutcakeFixerUpper!