Chosen: Lost Loves of the Bible Series #1Chosen: Lost Loves of the Bible Series #1
Ginger Garrett
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Her wit and beauty brought her the throne, and her compassion saved a nation. But what was hidden in her heart? Read the secrets of Queen Esther---from her days as a poor market wench through her marriage to the most powerful man in the ancient world. What really happened in Xerxes's palace? 304 pages, softcover from Cook.
     

 

 The Chosen Discussion Questions: Ginger Garrett


 

1. When our story begins, Esther has developed a crush on a young boy in the village. Who was your first crush, and where did you first meet him?

 

 

2. Esther prays fervently to avoid the selection day in the village. Yet she is taken against her will and despite her prayers. Have you ever prayed about something and received “no” for an answer? In the long run, was this a positive or negative event in your life? Were other people benefited in the process?

 

 

3. How does Esther’s “harem year” change her externally and internally? If you could set aside a year in your own life, what would you want to focus on?

 

4. Esther wrestles with her heart and mind as she marries one man, yet still has loving feelings for another. How hard is it for married women to forget old boyfriends? What would you have told Esther to do as she struggled to banish Cyrus from her thoughts?

 

5. At what point do you believe Esther’s feelings for King Xerxes became authentic instead of forced? Do you believe love is a purposed decision or a feeling over which you have no control?

 

6. When Esther had to confront King Xerxes with his error and beg for the life of her people, why do you think she chose to feed and dote on him for two nights first? Would you have chosen this strategy?

 

7. Have you ever had to confront someone who was much more powerful or influential? What happened? How did you feel?

 

8. When Xerxes trusted Haman as an adviser, how did the kingdom suffer? When Xerxes chose Esther and Mordecai as his closest advisers, how did the kingdom prosper? What insight does this give you in picking your closest friends?

 

9. In reviewing Esther’s life, what do you think served her better: her faith or her beauty? If you could choose between having great faith or great beauty, which would you choose, and why?

 

 

Persian Dinner and Discussion Guide:

If you’d like to explore the story of Esther further, we invite you to enjoy our Persian Dinner and Discussion Guide. The recipes will create an exotic Persian dinner, re-creating, perhaps, the feast Esther herself served to King Xerxes. The Discussion Guide will stimulate conversation and encourage you to consider how Esther’s story reflects your own.

Perfect for book clubs or for entertaining friends, this Persian dinner can also create a romantic dinner for two, should you find yourself wooing a king.

Menu

Flatbread with Cucumber-Dill Dip
Herbed Feasting Rice
Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce
Roasted Lamb Kabobs with Mint
Rosewater Cookies

The Persian Dinner Recipes:

Persian food is a wonderful combination of exotic flavors and easy preparation. You’ll find the flavors are cool and mild with sweet hints of fruit and pleasant herbs. This menu will serve eight. If you wish, you may halve the recipes to create a romantic dinner for two.

To recreate the mood of Esther’s feast for Xerxes, be sure to have plenty of candles burning. Sprinkle a few rose petals across the table in remembrance of her beloved rose garden. If possible, set the feast on a low table, and invite your guests to recline comfortably on cushions as they eat.

Flatbread

Many grocers carry flatbread in the bakery section. If you can’t find a Middle Eastern flatbread to enjoy with your feast, it’s easy to make your own.

1. Simply purchase whole-grain pitas, and cut each one into four triangles by cutting down the middle in an “x” pattern.

2. Next, place pieces on a cookie sheet and roast at 250 degrees for 10 minutes, or until firm. Do not allow these to brown, as they will dry out.

3. You can give them a quick drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle these with garlic or onion powder before roasting if you would like a bolder flavor. But not too much—you wouldn’t want a repeat of Cyrus’s flatbread in the market! Cucumber-Dill Dip

This refreshing—and healthy—dip is meant to be eaten with flatbread. You can also enjoy it with your roasted meat and rice.

1 (32 ounce) container plain yogurt
3 cucumbers, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 clove garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped coarsely
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, stir together all the ingredients. For best flavor, make this the night before and refrigerate.

Herbed Feasting Rice

This rice is a delicious accompaniment for chicken or beef. Use fresh herbs if you can. This rice may be made the day before and reheated before serving.

4 cups uncooked long-grain white rice (may substitute jasmine rice if preferred)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups fava beans (may omit if your grocer doesn’t carry them)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric (or to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

2. Cook rice according to package directions.

3. Stir in all remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer on lowest heat for 5-10 minutes, or until well heated. If you have crispy rice on the bottom of the pan, this is considered a delicacy and served to the most favored guest.

Chicken in Pomegranate Sauce

This makes a beautiful presentation right from the pan. Pomegranate molasses can be ordered from your grocer, or is often found in whole foods and specialty stores. Save a few whole walnuts for a garnish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, each cut in half lengthwise
1 cup finely ground walnuts
1 (10 fluid ounces) bottle pomegranate molasses

Directions:

4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and stir-fry until soft and transparent, then remove them from the skillet.

5. Add chicken breasts, several at a time, and brown them on each side. Set them aside until all 8 have been browned. This will not cook the chicken thoroughly, but will seal in the juices before you cook the chicken again.

6. Place the ground walnuts into skillet. Turn heat down to medium, and cook for 5 minutes, or until they are a rich brown color.

7. Place chicken and onions over walnuts in the skillet. Pour over this the pomegranate molasses. Turn heat down to low, and cover the skillet. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until chicken is cooked through. Before serving, arrange chicken in a starburst in the pan, and sprinkle a few whole walnuts in the middle and along the sides.

Roasted Lamb Kabobs with Mint

These kabobs are also delicious made with beef. To make preparation even easier, simply buy pre-made kabobs from your butcher, and prepare using the marinade.

Kabobs:

2 pounds lamb or sirloin, cut into large cubes
1 package cherry tomatoes
1 onion, quartered
1 green pepper, cut into thick wedges

Marinade:

1 (8 ounce) container plain low-fat yogurt
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried mint flakes, available with in the spice rack at most grocers (do not use mint extract)

Directions:

8. Create kabobs, alternating meat with vegetables.

9. Combine all marinade ingredients and spoon over each kabob. Marinade 6 hours, or overnight.

10. Heat grill to high, then return to medium-high heat. Grill each kabob, turning as needed, until the center cut of meat is grilled to desired degree.

Rosewater Cookies

Rosewater adds a delicate Persian touch to any pastry or cookie and is the perfect ending to your feast. Rosewater is available from cake and pastry shops, or at specialty and whole foods stores. Orange water may also be substituted for a delicious Persian variation.

1 cup butter
1 cup oil
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rosewater

11. Cream butter, oil, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar. Add eggs and rosewater and mix gently.

12. Combine flour, cream of tartar, and salt and stir thoroughly, then gently stir into creamed ingredients.

13. Drop in small teaspoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, but do not allow to overly brown.

 

4. Esther wrestles with her heart and mind as she marries one man, yet still has loving feelings for another. How hard is it for married women to forget old boyfriends? What would you have told Esther to do as she struggled to banish Cyrus from her thoughts?

5. At what point do you believe Esther’s feelings for King Xerxes became authentic instead of forced? Do you believe love is a purposed decision or a feeling over which you have no control?

6. When Esther had to confront King Xerxes with his error and beg for the life of her people, why do you think she chose to feed and dote on him for two nights first? Would you have chosen this strategy?

7. Have you ever had to confront someone who was much more powerful or influential? What happened? How did you feel?

8. When Xerxes trusted Haman as an adviser, how did the kingdom suffer? When Xerxes chose Esther and Mordecai as his closest advisers, how did the kingdom prosper? What insight does this give you in picking your closest friends?

9. In reviewing Esther’s life, what do you think served her better: her faith or her beauty? If you could choose between having great faith or great beauty, which would you choose, and why?

Author:

Ginger Garrett is a novelist with a passion for exploring the lives of biblical women and understanding how their ancient stories impact our lives today. Ginger also enjoys writing nonfiction for women and teens. Beyond writing, her interests include supporting The For Pete’s Sake Foundation, a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds for children with Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome.

You can learn more about Ginger’s books, including her newest NavPress novels, by visiting her at her website:
www.gingergarrett.com.

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