When we walk back inside, Charlie is at the stovetop flipping pancakes.
“Smells great,” I say.
He asks, “Will you make your fruit thing?”
I takes me a moment to locate the cutting board and a knife.
I stand next to my son, peeling the apples and dicing them and adding the pieces to a saucepan filled with simmering maple syrup.
—Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
How do I even sum up the epicness that is Dark Matter? This was such a fun read and was reminiscent of The Martian. Jason Dessen is a content family man, if not at times dissatisfied with his mediocre career as a physicist. When he’s dropped into an Odyssean adventure through the multiverse, Jason discovers just how far he’s willing to go to get back to hearth and home, middling career included.
She blurted something that had nothing to do with anything. “Do you know how to make honeyed half-moons?”
“Do I…” He lowered the map. “Kestrel, I hate to disappoint you, but I was never a cook.”
“You know how to make tea.”
He laughed. “You do realize that boiling water is within the capabilities of anybody?”
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, 5/5 stars
For some novels, food is almost a central character, like Brian Jacques’s Redwall series. (I can’t believe I haven’t covered any Redwall yet!) Typically, I just don’t feature the novel on my blog if food isn’t prominent, though I’ll give the book a shoutout on my Bookstagram. Then there’s books that are just too good to let slide by. I don’t care how far I have to stretch a recipe to relate it back to the book, it will be on the blog! The fruit tart I created for Illuminae is a perfect example of this. Nobody ate a fruit tart in Illuminae. In fact, I think all food products were freeze dried. Ew.
‘Food isn’t about getting through the day, Sebastian.’ She waved her bread under his nose as if he didn’t already have his own piece just begging to be finished. ‘It’s about stopping and appreciating the moment. It’s about exploring new tastes and textures. It’s about giving yourself a little piece of comfort or joy and sharing that with others.’
We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.
Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me my piece, she said without thinking, “Eat.”
The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.
“Ella, what are you doing?” Mother said.
“Little piggy.” Mandy laughed. “It’s her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants.” She put another slice on my plate.
I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn’t I stop eating?
Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it down. I started crying while I ate.
Mother realized first. “Stop eating, Ella,” she commanded.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, 5/5 stars
Ella Enchanted has been my favorite book since I was twelve. I’ve read it at least a dozen times. Most recently, I re-read it for book club and was nervous it wouldn’t stand the test of time, especially with how much I had hyped it up in my mind.
Spoiler: it did. For me and everyone else in the book club, whether it was one of their old favorites or their first time reading it.
It’s also the ultimate love story, so of course I had to team it with my Valentine’s Day post. I was inspired by Ella’s birthday cake and wanted to make something that would truly be a show-stopper. Plus, Brice and I binge-watched the Great American Baking Show and I became obsessed with doing some proper chocolate work.
I usually have a love/hate relationship with cake. They’re fun to make, but it’s never a go-to dessert for me, because it’s usually so heavy and sweet, especially when filled with frosting. These three layers of fluffy red velvet cake sandwiching a light and fresh raspberry cream filling, topped with white chocolate frosting and dark chocolate decor are a perfect balance, though. No “sticky masses of glue” here.
For the chocolate work, I highly recommend using a thermometer with a digital reader. I did not and my temperatures were slightly off meaning my tempered chocolate was a little streaky and wasn’t setting as well as I would have liked. For my first time tempering chocolate, it worked out well enough.
Here are the recipes I used:
Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cake – the only thing I changed was the amount of food coloring. I had a .25 ounce container, some of which I used for these mini princess cakes. I just tossed in the remainder of the container. (An ounce just sounded excessive!)
Now let me say this: when you’re traveling a good cloak is worth more than all your other possessions put together. If you’ve nowhere to sleep, it can be your bed and blanket. It will keep the rain off your back and then sun from your eyes. You can conceal all manner of interesting weaponry beneath it if you are clever, and a smaller assortment if you are not.
But beyond all that, two facts remain to recommend a cloak. First, very little is as striking as a well-worn cloak, billowing lightly about you in the breeze. And second, the best cloaks have innumerable little pockets that I have an irrational and overpowering attraction toward.
— The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, 5/5 stars
We all know Celaena has a wicked sweet tooth, as I showcased here and here. Has anyone else noticed how often Celaena eats apples, though? It’s all the time. In case you don’t believe me, I’ve scoured Sarah J. Maas’s Heir of Fire for quotes.
She munched on the apple as she studied him now, in his usual pale-gray tunic and wide belt, hood thrown back and leather vambraces gleaming in the light afternoon sunlight.
“I like horses,” said I, lungs tight with feeling. “I always have done.” “Do you like dreadfully drafty English country houses?” “I did not always, but I have grown to.” “What about curry?” “Everyone likes curry, sir.” I concur with Jane. Everyone likes curry! For a Jane Steel book review, click here.
I loved Illuminae so much (in case you didn’t pick that up from my review), that despite there being rare mentions of food, I wanted to feature it. I chose a summery-fresh fruit tart inspired by the book’s cover. I used a combination of strawberries, raspberries, clementines, and mango. There’s a lot of flexibility here and you can use any of your favorite fruits.
“By morning, Lorelai was strong enough to get up and eat breakfast without help. Gabril boiled a small pot of beans and sliced the last of the apples they’d stolen from the queen’s garrison. She ate the beans but ignored the apples.”
I sided with Lorelai and forwent the obvious choice of an apple dish to coincide with this Snow White re-telling by C.J. Redwine. I got so tired of hearing about the gross beans Lorelai and company were dining on every meal.
“Lorelai shoved a spoonful of beans into her mouth. They were hot and tasteless.”
I submit that with a bit of foraging, Gabriel really could have elevated those beans to a fresh, crunchy, delectable meal.
“The faint aroma of apples filled the air, and the lingering stain of rot smeared the teeth of those who smiled at Irina.”
The apples in this book never sounded appealing. For a non-apple recipe that Loralei and company could have taken on the road, click here.
A Snow White re-telling with a few twists, though it stays fairly close to the classic. After the Evil Queen overtakes her kingdom, Princess Loralei becomes a fugitive determined to win back her crown.
I liked this book more than I expected to. It was an entertaining, quick read. I did dock it a few stars for gaps in the plot, a deus ex machine, if you will…. …though I suppose anyone being saved from death by true love’s kiss is a deus ex machina? Mostly, I was disappointed with the Evil Queen’s characterization. The effort was there, but no follow through.