Monthly Archives: July 2009

A Rummaging Read: Anne of Ingleside

I give you fair warning: L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors, which means that most of her books will make an appearance here sooner or later.

I begin with Anne of Ingleside, the charming account of the lives and times of the Blythe family, with special attention given to the Blythe children.  In Montgomery’s classic style, this book is full of witty character sketches and the winsome energy of youth.  The Blythe children are always running in and out of the kitchen for Susan’s homemade treats or frying up freshly caught fish down in Rainbow Valley, and Montgomery’s descriptions make you wish you could join them for a snack.

While I probably will have to revisit this book and include a recipe for the golden cake Rilla guiltily tosses into the water, I have settled on Susan Baker’s monkey face cookies.  These cookies appear in several of the books, and just enough description is given to make them sound like a whimsical treat.

Several years ago I tried to hunt down the recipe, but these were pre-internet days, and I had no success.  Then, one Christmas, I received the Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book as a gift and was thrilled to find the following recipe for Monkey-Faced Cookies.  As the cookbook says: “You’ll be amused by the droll faces.  In an antique shop, pasted on the underside of a drawer in an old table, a radio friend of Fultonville, New York, discovered this recipe written in faded ink in old-fashioned script: ‘for Elsa’.”

Monkey-Faced Cookies

Mix together thoroughly: 1/2 cup soft shortening, 1 cup brown sugar, and 1/2 cup molasses.

Stir in: 1/2 cup sour milk, 1 tsp. vinegar.

Sift together and stir in: 2 1/2 cups sifted flour, 1 tsp. soda, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. ginger, and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Drop rounded teaspoonfuls 2 1/2″ apart on ungreased baking sheet.  Place 3 raisins on each for eyes and mouth.  Bake until set (about 10-12 minutes).  Remove from sheet in 1 minute.  Faces take on droll expressions in baking.  Makes about 4 dozen 2 1/2″ cookies.

Alternatively you could try this recipe offered by The Anne of Green Gables and L.M. Montgomery Lexicon, although I haven’t tested it myself.


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A Rummaging Read: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

As any Harry Potter fan knows, this week marks the opening of the sixth Harry Potter film.  And in honor of that estimable event, my post today includes a recipe for food mentioned in the book.

Now, J. K. Rowling is a master at incorporating enticing food into her storyline.  Most of the books make me want to down handfuls of gooey chocolate candies and eat anything remotely pumpkin-flavored.   And Rowling really should be celebrated for redeeming the notoriously bad reputation of British food, because all the dishes served in the Great Hall sound delicious.

Despite all this, the Half-Blood Prince doesn’t have a lot of tasty food.  Perhaps it’s a result of the darker nature of the final books.  I reread HP6 this week in anticipation of the movie and kept a special look out for favorable foods.  While there was a possible onion soup early on and quite a few intriguing potions (if only we could have a recipe for Felix Felicis!), I had to settle on a food that is rather modest.

This week’s selection comes to us courtesy of Professor Slughorn, who, in all his finery and excess, never fails to have a handful of candied pineapple somewhere nearby.  While Slughorn himself is not necessarily an inspiring character (note the carefully chosen name and all its connotations), whenever I read these scenes, I desperately want candied pineapple.  Now, I have never made candied pineapple, so I have no tried-and-true formula to offer you.  But I have found two easy, straightforward recipes for all you other pineapple-lovers who would like to try this at home:

Stovetop Version

Microwave Version

Alternatively, you could cozy up to some young wizards-with-potential with the hope that they will keep you well supplied.  Either way, share some with me!  I need a stash to smuggle in to the movie tomorrow night.


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Advanced Beginner Blogging

A few months ago, I ventured into the blogging world somewhat reluctantly.  But now, my feet are a bit wet, and I’m ready for the next step.  A theme.  (This is why this post is advanced beginner blogging ).  I’ve mulled over ideas from the ridiculous to the commonplace and finally settled on one.

While retaining every blogger’s rights to post whatever-they-like, I’m going to try and write a weekly post relating books and food.  You know the kind of connection I mean.  You read a book, and whatever the characters are eating makes you want to go rummage through the cupboards for a snack.  For me, this is always surprising.  For example, even though I’m a vegetarian, whenever I read Jane Austen, I want to eat some sort of meat, typically a ham.  I’m not sure why this is so.  Perhaps it’s the influence of the BBC adaptations, where the characters spend an inordinate amount of time cutting their food into tiny pieces and chewing in a very proper British way.

My one disclaimer is that, though I can cook, I don’t love to cook.  Furthermore, I am not a gourmand.  Even if I were, it wouldn’t matter, because not all book-inspired recipes may be dishes one actually wants to eat.  So, I will endeavor to post interesting connections between eating and reading, and it will be up to you to try the recipe or the book (preferably at the same time).


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Just For Fun

In case you need something to brighten up your Monday morning, I have thoughtfully provided you with a link to GraphJam.

If you’re not interested in discovering the scariness of spiders based on their position, click on “random” at the top of the page to generate more incredibly useful graphs.

You’re welcome.  🙂

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