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…

Quotable Quotes from Kingsley’s Water-Babies

Front board, Cotsen 15234

Front board of Cotsen 15234, with design of Tom the water baby enjoying aquatic sports.

A revered professor in the UCLA English Department used to say that when a person could rattle on confidently about a book–preferably an uncontested masterpiece like Hamlet or Ulysses–without having ever cracked it open, only then could the degree of  Ph.d be conferred.

Charles Kingsley’s The Water-Babies (1863) is one of those books I expected to fake for the rest of my unnatural life.   When asked to serve on the advisory board of the Grolier 100 Books Famous in Children’s Literature project I did not confess my ignorance, knowing that Brian Alderson would wrangle The Water-Babies entry, having edited the Oxford World Classics edition.   This month I was finally obliged to fetch the book from the basement, where it had been languishing for some time, and read it from cover to cover  without benefit of pictures, either.

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Page 17, Cotsen 39124. Tom was a chimney sweep before being transformed into a water baby. Here he stumbles into a village school, where he sees for the first time children working at their lessons.

I’m happy to say that The Water-Babies lived up to its reputation as one of the most peculiar children’s books ever written and some of the passages about the rearing and educating of children are worth sharing.  All quotations are from the 1995 Oxford University Press paperback edited by Brian Alderson, of course.  If you have a tender stomach, Kingsley’s indelicate sense of humor may not be your cup of tea.

Here is the hideous and not entirely benign fairy Mrs. Be-Done-By-As-You-Did, who visits the water-babies on Fridays. When pleased with them, she gives “them all sorts of nice sea-things–sea-cakes, sea-apples, sea-oranges, sea-bullseyes, sea-toffee; and to the very best of all she gave sea-ices, made out of sea-cows’ cream, which never melt under water.”

[161] Tipped-in plate, Cotsen 15234

[161] Tipped-in plate of Mrs. Be-Done-By-As-You-Did by Jessie Willcox Smith, Cotsen 15234

The real business of the day is to “call up all who have ill-used little children, and serve them as they served the children….And first she called up all the doctors who give little children so much physic (they were most of them old ones; for all the young ones have learnt better, all but a few army surgeons, who still fancy that a baby’s inside is much like a Scotch grenadier’s), and she set them in a row; and very rueful they looked, for they knew what was coming.

And first she pulled all their teeth out; and then she bled them all round; and then she dosed them with calomel, and jalap, and salts and senna, and brimstone and treacle; and horrible faces they made; and then she gave them a great emetic of mustard and water, and no basons; and began all over again; and that was the way she spent the morning” (Chapter V, p. 109).

This second excerpt is less savage, unless you happen to be in the children’s book publishing business.  During his journey to the Other-end-of-Nowhere, the hero Tom visits a number of remarkable places.

“And first he went through Waste-paper-land, where all the stupid books lie in heaps, up hill and down dale, like leaves in a winter wood; and there he saw people digging and grubbing among them, to make worse books out of bad ones, and thrashing chaff to save the dust of it; and a very good trade they drove thereby, especially among children” (Chapter VIII, p. 157).

Last but not least is an excerpt from Tom’s sojourn in the Isle of the Tomtoddies:

“And when Tom came near it, he heard such a grumbling and grunting and growling and waiting and weeping and whining that he thought people must be wringing little pigs, or cropping puppies’ ears, or drowning kittens: but when he came nearer still, he began to hear words among the noise, which was the Tomtoddies’ song which they sing morning and evening, and all night too, to their great idol Examination–“I can’t learn my lesson: the examiner’s coming!”  And that was the only song they knew….

Then he looked round for the people of the island: but instead of men, women, and children, he found nothing but turnips and radishes, beet and mangold wurzel, without a single green leaf among them, and half of them burst and decayed with toadstools growing out of them.  Those which were left began crying to Tom, in half a dozen different languages at once, and all of them badly spoken, “I can’t learn my lesson; do come help me!”  And one cried, “Can you show me how to extract this square-root?”  And another, “Can you tell me the distance between Lyra and Camelopardalis?”  And another, “What is the latitude and longitutde of Snooksville, in Noman’s County, Oregon, US?” (Chapter VIII, p. 165)

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Harold Jones’s illustration of the Tomtoddies imploring Tom to stop and help them. Page 202, Cotsen 34543

This post may squelch most people’s desire to read Kingsley, but perhaps a few will be curious to dip into a story dubbed by its author as “all a fairy tale and only fun and pretense,” that was one of the great children’s best-sellers of all time.  It’s never too late for a Kingsley revival???  For more babies who love the water, take a look at the exhibition https://blogs.princeton.edu/cotsen/tag/water-babies/

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Tom talking to his friend the lobster as imagined by Jessie Willcox Smith. Page 15 vignette, Cotsen 15234