Category Archives: J Fiction

Time for Cranberries!

Next week Thursday is Thanksgiving.  We tend to associate cranberries with Thanksgiving and they do make a wonderful accompaniment to the turkey, potatoes and stuffing, but the tart fruit is delicious any time of year. Wende and Harry Devlin, authors of the charming Cranberry picture books starting with Cranberry Thanksgiving in 1971 all the way through to Cranberry Easter in 1993, seem to agree as each story has a cranberry recipe at the end (except for Cranberry Birthday because cranberries are out of season when Mr. Whisker’s birthday comes around).

Try one today!

Cranberry Autumn                  Cranberry Squares
Cranberry Birthday                  Strawberry Birthday Cake
Cranberry Christmas               Cranberry Cookies
Cranberry Easter                    Cranberry Cobbler
Cranberry Halloween               Cranberry Dessert
Cranberry Mystery                   Cranberry Pie-Pudding
Cranberry Summer                  Cranberry Punch
Cranberry Thanksgiving           Cranberry Bread
Cranberry Valentine                 Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

Happy reading and happy eating!


Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

A Fine Dessert: Blackberry Fool

What is a fool?  According to the Joy of Baking website (, a fool is “a delicious mixture of lightly sweetened fruit that has been pureed and then haphazardly folded into whipped cream.”  The word fool derives from the French word “fouler” which means “to mash” or “to press” because the berries are mashed and pressed through a sieve to remove all the seeds.

The recent picture book, A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins and Sophie Blackwell highlights the changes in technology as four families over four centuries prepare this dessert and offers readers a recipe for making their own fool.

Blackberry Fool is simple, but tedious to make. The fruit, traditionally gooseberries according to what I have read, but in this case blackberries is pressed through a sieve, mixed with sugar then folded into whipped cream.


The end result? Like the title says: fine. Tasty, but not really worth the effort, in my opinion. Not much on it’s own, just a fruit-flavored whipped cream.  I think it would be better mixed with whole fruits in a crepe or a parfait as an upscale whipped cream.  

If you make this dessert yourself, be sure to serve it the same day; it does not keep well.

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

Happy Fall!


‘Tis the season for apples and pumpkins and all things fall.  A humorous story for this time of year is Pumpkin Hill by Elizabeth Spurr.  When a farmer and his wife cannot decide on what crop to grow, a lone pumpkin spreads its seeds until years later, the side of the hill is covered in pumpkins, which leads to a pumpkin avalanche that inundates the town and causes the mayor to declare, “No more pumpkins!”

Includes instructions for growing your own pumpkins and how to roast pumpkin seeds for a “nourishing nibble.”

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

I’ve been nudged!

This blog has lain dormant for almost two years.  Why?  No good reason except that I have found other interests that have captured most of my time.  (Genealogy, anyone?)  But today I was called out for my lack of attention to this blog, so here I am.

Today I present you with a recipe found in a children’s classic, Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang by Ian Fleming.  I have not made this recipe as I have been searching for a conversion for unsweetened chocolate, which comes in 1 ounce blocks and is measured by weight, not volume.  Well, according to Cardamommy’s blog Fleming meant cocoa powder, which is measured by volume.

Monsieur Bon-Bon’s Secret “Fooj”
1 lb granulated sugar
1 small can evaporated milk
1/4 lb finest butter
1 tablespoonful water
1 tablespoonful corn sirup
4 tablespoonfuls unsweetened chocolate

Put all the ingredients into a saucepan.  Melt slowly on a low gas until the mixture thickens slightly and is absolutely smooth. Turn up gas and boil very quickly until it forms into a soft ball when a sample is dropped into cold water.  Remove from heat and beat well with a wooden spoon.  Pour the whole mixture into a flat, greased pan, mark in squares, and leave to set. When cold, DEVOUR!

And for comparison, I give you my Grandma’s fudge recipe.  I have fond memories of my family receiving a pan of fudge every year at Christmas.  I have tried making Grandma’s recipe without success.  If anybody wants to attempt it and let me know the secret, I’d love to hear from you.

Grandma's (Lillian) Fudge

Happy reading and happy eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

Cupcakes and More

I recently read two middle grade books about girls whose parent’s recently divorced.  Eggs Over Evie by Alison Jackson, has Evie adjusting not only to her parent’s divorce, but her father’s new wife, who is expecting twins, her mother’s first date since the divorce and the fact that her father took custody of her dog.  She finds comfort in cooking.  (Her father is a local TV chef and Evie feels closer to her father when she’s cooking.)

I enjoyed the story and drooled over the recipes; I am sure it will appeal to middle grade girls, but I couldn’t help but come at the story with my critical adult brain.  Take Evie’s parent’s for example: they’ve only been divorced a year, but dad’s already remarried and expecting twins (who will be born by the end of the story) with his new young wife.  All I’m thinking while reading is that the creep was having an affair with this homewrecker before he even moved out of the house.  Either that or he works really fast.

As the story progresses, Evie starts to adjust to her new normal with the help of her cranky old neighbor (who is really just lonely) and the cute boy in her cooking class.  Another example of my nit-picky brain at work:  the cooking class must be really short because all they do the first week is boil eggs.  And then they put them in the fridge till the next class a week later when all they do is make egg salad.  Really??  The class can’t be extended another 1/2 hour so they can make some egg salad sandwiches?  Another week they peel apples for pie, but don’t make the pie!

Each chapter begins with a quote from a famous chef and ends with a recipe.  A recipe from Eggs Over Evie can be found on the author’s blog at  (And you have a chance to have your original recipe featured in the sequel.  How cool is that!)

The other book, Save the Cupcake, the first in a new series by Lisa Papademetriou features Haley who after her parent’s divorce has moved, along with her mother and sister, into her grandmother’s apartment above her tea shop.  Although Haley misses her lifelong friends (and neighbors), she is happy to have space in her grandmother’s shop to indulge her hobby of creating new cupcake recipes.

Like Evie, Haley’s dad has already moved on and has a young girlfriend.  In addition, Haley is dealing with the usual middle school drama and changing friendships.

Recipes for most of Haley’s cupcake experiments can be found in the book.  One cupcake that really intrigued me was the Country Breakfast Cupcake, described as “a delicious blend of bacon, egg, and pancake with maple-syrup frosting.”   But, alas, no recipe.  Many of the recipes from the story can be found on the author’s website at  Can’t wait to try the French Toast Cupcakes.

Happy reading and happy eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

Time for PIE!

For some reason, summer seems like pie season to me. (And boy, has this weekend declared itself to be summer!  We set a record high yesterday.)   Maybe because so many are made with fruit.  The perfect book to feed those pie cravings is PIE by Sarah Weeks, an historical fiction story for middle graders.

Alice and her Aunt Polly bond over her aunt’s award-winning pies which put their little town on the map.  People come from all over for Polly’s pies, which she gives away.   When Polly dies unexpectedly, the whole town is thrown for a loop as many businesses are dependent on tourists coming for Polly’s pies.

Alice’s mother has always resented that Polly gave away the pies instead of charging for them and getting rich (then sharing her wealth with her sister).  She is determined to recreate Polly’s award winning pie crust, but Polly never shared the recipe and when she dies, who inherits her secrets?  Her cat Lardo!  And Lardo is left to Alice.  How can someone leave a recipe to a cat?

Includes 14 tasty pie recipes:

Apple Crumble Pie Lemon Chess Pie
Coconut Cream Pie Key Lime Pie
Buttermilk Pie Concord Grape Pie
Green Tomato Pie Pecan Pie
Sour Cherry Pie Peach Pie
Huckleberry Pie Rhubarb Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie Peanut Butter Raspberry Pie

Which one to try first?
Happy reading and happy eating!

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction

Tea and Scones

The Tea Shop Girls c. 2008
The Secret Ingredient c. 2011
by Laura Schaefer

Two stories about Annie Green, her grandmother and her grandmother’s tea shop in Madison, Wisconsin.  Having grown up as a Green and a Midwestern girl myself, I just had to like Annie; it was like meeting a long-lost younger cousin.

In the first title, grandma’s tea shop is not doing well.  Business has been hard hit by the corporate competitor down the street.  Annie and her friends help grandma save the tea shop.  In the sequel, Annie experiments with various scone recipes to enter into a baking contest.

In addition to recipes for tea and other tea time treats, The Tea Shop Girls has scrapbook pages of tea lore and vintage tea ads.

Blueberry Scones, Plain Scones, Toffee Apple Scones

I tried three different scone recipes:  Louisa’s Very Best Spiced Blueberry Scones (Tea Shop Girls), Plain Scones (Secret Ingredient) and Toffee Apple Tea Scones (Secret Ingredient).  All the recipes called for specific brand-name ingredients, which I did not have. I just used the generic brand items I had on hand.

The directions for all three recipes called for rolling out the dough, but I don’t know if I measured wrong or what, but none of the doughs were stiff enough to roll out.  They were all very wet and sticky so I just patted them down into a pan and scored the dough before baking.  The Toffee Apple Tea Scones turned out more cake than biscuit-like.

All the recipes from The Secret Ingredient contained a small amount of tea leaf (the secret ingredient!).  I was a little leery about adding tea leaves, but went ahead using my favorite Earl Gray, which added a lovely scent to the Plain Scones and was not really noticeable in the Toffee Apple Scones.

All the scones got a thumbs up from my family.

Leave a comment

Filed under J Fiction