Treats from Children’s Cookbooks that will get Jack Horner Out of the Corner

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Little Jack Horner caught in the act by Jessie Wilcox Smith

In honor of little Jack Horner, here is a menu for a holiday dessert buffet concocted from children’s cookbooks in the Cotsen collection.  The recipes, as prepared by some of the best-loved characters in children’s literature, have been edited for length, but were not tested in Cotsen’s curatorial or outreach kitchen.

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From Easy Steps in Cooking, or Mary Frances among the Kitchen People, written and illustrated by Jane Eayre Frye. Oakland, CA: Smithsonian Co., c1912. (Cotsen 40860).

CHRISTMAS DESSERT BUFFET

Pepparkakor

Inspired by Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking

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From Astrid Lindgren, Kaenner du Pippi Langstrump? Illustrated by Ingrid Nyman. Stockholm: Raben & Sjoegren, 1947.

3 1/2 C. flour; 2 tsp. ginger; 2 tsp. cinnamon; 2 tsp. cloves; 1 tsp. baking soda; 1/2 tsp. salt; 1/2 C. dark corn syrup; 1 tsp. grated orange zest; 1 C. butter; 1 C. sugar, 1 large egg, lightly beaten; pearl sugar

Whisk together dry ingredients  in a bowl.  In a small saucepan, warm the butter and sugar, stirring until melted.  Cool to room temperature, then whisk in the egg.  Pour over flour mixture and stir until blended.  Form dough into ball, wrap tightly with two layers of plastic wrap and chill overnight.  Preheat over to 375 degrees With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough on a lightly floured kitchen floor to 1/4 inch  thickness.   Using a star cutter, cut dough into cookies.  Put stars on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with pearl sugar.  Bake until edges begin to brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

Thanks to Epicurious for this recipe.

*****

Blackberry and Apple Meringue

Arabella Boxer, The Wind in the Willows Country Cookbook (1983). (Cotsen 15424)

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From Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows. Illustrated by E. H. Shepard. London: Methuen, 1970. (Cotsen 32085).

1 large cooking apple; 50 g. (2 oz) granulated sugar; 450 g. (1 lb. blackberries); juice of one lemon; 2 egg whites; 75 g. (3 oz) superfine sugar

Heat the oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F or Gas Mark 2)  Peel and core the apple and cut into thinnish slices.  Put the apples in a pan with 2 T water and the granulated sugar.  Cook gently, covered, for 4 minutes, then add the berries, return to the simmer and cook for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Tip into a pie dish.  Beat the egg whites until stiff, fold in the superfine sugar, and pile over the fruit, covering the dish entirely.  Bake for 30 minutes, then cool for about 30 minutes before serving with cream.

*****

Hidden Window Dessert

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Carolyn Keene, The Hidden Window Mystery. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, c1958. (Cotsen in process 7305311).

1 package EACH of cherry, orange, lemon, and lime gelatin; 1 C. pineapple juice; 1/4 C. sugar; 1 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter; 12 graham crackers, crushed; 4 C. whipped cream or other whipped topping

In a saucepan, boil enough water to make 1 cup.  This means you must start with a little more than a cup.  Dissolve the cherry gelatin in this.  Stir well.  Add 1/2 cup cold water and pour gelatin into a ice tray with no divider.  Do the same with the orange and lime gelatin separately.  (Use the same pan, but rinse it each time.)  In the same pan again. boil the pinapple juice with sugar.  Dissolve the lemon gelatin in this.  Add 1/2 cup cold water.  Let set in a large mixing bowl to the syrupy stage.  Fold in the whipped cream.  When firm, cut the cherry, orange, and lime gelatins into cubes.  Fold them into the lemon gelatin mixture.  Grease a springform pan.  Stir melted butter into the crushed graham crumbs and spread on the bottom on the pan.  Pour in the mixture.  Chill 12 hours.  You’ll have many colored windows in each slice of cake!

Mrs. Tiggy’s Tipsy Pudding

Margaret Lane, The Beatrix Potter Country Cookery Book  (1983, c1981).

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Beatrix Potter’s prickly little washer woman from The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle.

1 large spongecake; 125 ml. (1/4 pint) sweet sherry; juice of an orange; 75 g. (3 oz) superfine sugar; 250 ml. (1/2 pint) double cream; raisins; 100 g. (4 oz flaked almonds)

Cut a hollow on the underside of the cake, keeping the bit for later.  Fill the hollow with the sherry and orange juice; pour the remaining wine and juice over the top.  Refrigerate overnight, spooning the mixture over the cake from time to time.  In the morning, replace the bit of cake in the hollow.  Split the almonds into narrow bits and brown lightly in the oven.  Stick them all over the cake.  Use the raisins for nose and eyes.  Whip the cream stiff and fold in the sugar.  Pile in peaky dollops all around the cake and serve.

*****

Treacle toffee from Hagrid

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Christmas at Hogwarts as imagined by Mary de Grandpre.

75 g. (3 oz) Golden Syrup; 75 gg (3 oz) black treacle or molasses; 150 g. (6 oz) brown sugar; 75 g. (3 oz) butter; 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Line a 6 x 8 inch baking pan with non-stick parchment.  Measure all ingredients into a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until the butter is melted and sugar dissolved.  When the mixture is smooth and nicely combined, bring to a rolling boil.  When the mixture reaches 140 degrees C/ 285 degrees F on the candy thermometer (analog or digital), pour carefully into the pan.  For even pieces, wait until the toffee is cool enough to hand, but leaves a slight impression if poked with a finger (15- 20 minutes).  Cut into the toffee deeply enough to leaves lines and when it has cooled completely, break along the lines.  For toffee that will break your teeth, let it cool completely, then break into pits with a hammer or rolling pin.  Store in an airtight container with parchment in between layers.

With thanks to BBC Food

*****

Boston Cooler

Nika Hazelton, Raggedy Ann and Andy’s Cookbook  (c1973).  (Cotsen 28282).

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Endpapers for Johnny Gruelle, Raggedy Ann in Cookie Land. Joliet, Wisconsin: P. F. Volland & Co., c1931. (Cotsen in process 0000).

12 oz. can root beer; 4 small scoops vanilla ice cream

Pour the root beer into two glasses.  Carefully put two scoops ice cream in each glass.  Serve with a long spoon and a straw.

And happy holidays to all!

For readers needing a stronger sugar rush, read junk food in picture books…

“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:” A Review that Puzzles out but Keeps the Secrets

la-et-cm-harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-london-2016-20150626Here’s a review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for readers waiting to buy tickets to the first United States production when they go on sale.  The two-part script published last July was billed as the eighth and final installment of Harry Potter.  It was a bold, even risky, decision to bring the saga to its conclusion in a play, but how does the story work on the page?584731898-britain-entertainment-literature-harry-potterThe Cursed Child is slick, elegant market-driven bookmaking, with the numerous stakeholders’ claims on the title page verso.  Everything about the design of the “Special Rehearsal Edition Script”–the dust jacket’s conservative typography, the shiny (but not too shiny raised letters), and the discreet touch of gold–helps define a new franchise under the Harry Potter brand’s umbrella. The enigmatic logo does not say “for young readers” as clearly as does Mary Grandpre’s colorful artwork for the American Harry Potter jackets and covers. Could the script be trying to distance itself from the fantasy series for kids from nine to ninety?  Some fans were disappointed that The Cursed Child was not a novel, but they should have been tipped off by the credits at the end that figure in playbills–original London cast, production credits down to the chaperones and house seats assistant, biographies of the original story team (Rowling, Tiffany, and Thorne), plus acknowledgments.

imageIs the script of The Cursed Child  for Potterheads only?   It certainly helps to belong to the fan base because the plot is dependent upon knowledge of Harry Potter and the Goblet of  Fire. harry_potter_and_the_goblet_of_fire_us_coverThe chronicle of year four was dominated by the Triwizard Tournament, when fourteen-year-old Harry was pitted against his adolescent self, his friends, Hogwarts, unwelcome celebrity, and He Who Must Not Be Named.   If you can’t recall much about about Victor Krumm, Winky the house elf, and blast-ended skrewts you can get by, but understanding how the relationship between Harry Cedric Diggory changed during the three tasks makes it much easier to understand the characters’ motives and in turn the plot of The Cursed Child.harry-cedric_xxxlarge42683340-54d9-0133-0b85-0e34a4cc753dAs there was no novel to dramatize, the script reveals the extent to which the wizards backstage fleshed out the eighth Harry Potter.   With what must be jaw-dropping special effects as the foundation, Thorne’s play whirls from past, present, and a future that must not be allowed to take place.  However the kaleidoscope of rapidly changing scenes shrinks most of the dialogue to rapid-fire exchanges.  This is not a shortcoming in scenes where there’s no time to be wasted, like the surprising encounter between the Trolley Witch, Albus, and Scorpius.  But the scenes with Ginny and Harry, for example, might have made a greater impact if the characters had been given more lines to reveal their fears and feelings.  Perhaps this isn’t as noticeable in the darkened theater as in the living room.

The story proper begins when the inseparable odd couple, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, decide to right a great wrong in the past using a Time Turner, the magical object that played a critical role in The Prisoner of Azkaban.  Dumbledore gave Hermione a beta version so she could double up on her courses and he also hinted that it would be rather useful rescuing Sirius and Buckbeak.  Unlike the Egyptian tyet in E. Nesbit’s The Story of the Amulet, the Time Turner is a precision instrument that either teenage wizards or powerful witches can operate without prior training.   The boys are too weighed down by Freudian angst and the responsibility of rescuing the wizarding world to have any larks when they time travel: they return only to critical episodes in Harry Potter’s childhood to improve, then preserve the past as it happened.  There is a side trip to the school they would have attended if Voldemort had won the Battle of Hogwarts. The brief reign of Dolores Umbridge as High Inquisitor in Order of the Phoenix foreshadows these nightmarish scenes, whose secondary function seems to be bringing back Severus Snape for a not especially satisfying cameo appearance.

The alignment of play’s narrative arc with that of the novels too deliberate to be anything but a reflection of a creative decision to allow the audience to re-experience the myth rather than to engage them in the younger generation’s lives.  Somewhat to its detriment, The Cursed Child is no The Year of the Griffin.  Some of the new material seems coldly calculated to stir a frisson of surprise in an audience that knows the score: for example, on the Hogwarts Express, Albus and Scorpius become best friends forever at first sight, instead of being loyal to their fathers.  The undercurrent of their banter suggests a strong mutual physical attraction, but it turns out to be a tease, which I hear let down young gay fans in Northern Europe.  Scorpius’ puppy love for Rose Granger Weasley is might foreshadow intermarriage between antagonistic wizarding families and is supposed to serve as a symbol that the age of Voldemort had indeed passed.

Casting African-born British actress Noma Dumezweni as Hermione was another uneasy if well-intentioned move after the fact to make the Harry Potter series more diverse.  I would love to see what Dumezweni made of the role.  Granger may be the Minister of Magic, but deep down she is still the trio’s fixer and problem-solver.  It is hard to believe that she has changed so little, even though she is the boss of Harry Potter, the head of the Department of Magical Enforcement.  On the other hand, she is still married to the goofy underachiever Ron Weasley, which makes it psychologically plausible, if politically incorrect.  Hermione’s situation vis-a-vis Harry was always reminiscent of Mary Lennox at the end of The Secret Garden, edged aside by the author so as not to detract from the hero’s triumph. It is ironic that Hermione–and all the other strong women in the Cursed Child– are defined largely by their men.

As important as a mother’s love or friendship between the sexes is to the Harry Potter series, in the end it’s a boy’s chronicle.  The Cursed Child‘s dynamics revolve  around the ties between fathers and their children: Harry’s struggle to connect with his son Albus is contrasted with that of Draco and Scorpius Malfoy on the one hand, and the inconsolable grief of  Amos Diggory for the dead Cedric on the other, with Dumbledore reappearing as Harry’s most important father substitute.  Equally resonant are the children who  destroyed their fathers or those who longed to prove themselves to fathers they never knew.  By the end of the play, the ongoing tensions between the fathers and children have been resolved to such an extent that the passions driving the seven Harry Potter novels are reduced to dying embers.  In principle, J. K Rowling could write a novel based on the script of The Cursed Child, but we should take her at her word that this spectacular production really is the end.   At least until the break out of a certain prisoner in Azkaban…

Who then is  the cursed child?   If I am right, the clues concealed in the text and the logo point to not one, but two characters,  a male and a female.  What’s your take?

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