Today we are honored to welcome a very special guest to Alphabet Soup: the one and only Amiable Guinea-pig!
After reading and reviewing Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson and Charlotte Voake (Schwartz & Wade, 2016), we felt a tasty homage to this dapper little fellow was definitely in order.
Peter Rabbit gets a lot of attention, as does Miss Tiggy-Winkle, Jemima Puddle-Duck, Jeremy Fisher, Tom Kitten and Squirrel Nutkin. In fact, they all have their own little books written about them. But not the Amiable one, who was actually the first guinea pig in Miss Potter’s work. She wrote a clever limerick about him that appeared in Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes (1917).
But one limerick does not a book make. Wouldn’t you feel a little slighted? To add insult to injury, initially Miss Potter’s publisher Frederick Warne & Co. wasn’t that keen on the Appley Dapply rhyme collection, which she had hoped to publish following the release of The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902.
So the Amiable Guinea-pig, along with his other Appley Dapply friends, were shelved until more than a decade later, when the book was finally published to save Warne from financial ruin. Seems Harold Warne (brother to Beatrix’s late fiancé Norman) was convicted of forgery and sentenced to 6 months of hard labor in a London prison (tsk, tsk).
Since Miss Potter was their greatest creditor and artistic property, she was asked to help. Instead of taking on the intense labor of creating an entirely new book, she suggested they select some of the rhymes from the 1904 Appley Dapply dummy and publish them in a small book format. Luckily, the book sold well. So, yes, the Amiable Guinea-pig helped save the day!
Now, we’re happy to share his limerick, along with several other verses from Appley Dapply and its companion book, Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes (1922). The Amiable Guinea-pig is proud to note that the guinea pigs in the gardening picture are likely his relatives, also owned by Beatrix’s neighbor Miss Paget of the aforementioned Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig. Mr. Amiable hopes the guinea pig in that story wasn’t used as a model for him. 🙂
~ from Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes:
There once was an amiable guinea-pig,
Who brushed back his hair like a periwig —
He wore a sweet tie,
As blue as the sky —
And his whiskers and buttons
Were very big.
If acorn-cups were tea-cups,
what should we have to drink?
Why! honey-dew for sugar,
in a cuckoo-pint of milk;
With pats of witches’ butter
and a tansey cake, I think,
Laid out upon a toad-stool
on a cloth of cob-web silk!
Appley Dapply, a little
Goes to the cupboard in some-
In somebody’s cupboard
There’s everything nice,
Cake, cheese, jam, biscuits,
– All charming for mice!
Appley Dapply has little
And Appley Dapply is so fond
~ from Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes:
Cecily Parsley lived in a pen,
And brewed good ale for gentlemen;
Gentlemen came every day,
Till Cecily Parsley ran away.
We have a little garden,
A garden of our own,
And every day we water there
The seeds that we have sown.
We love our little garden,
And tend it with such care,
You will not find a faded leaf
Or blighted blossom there.
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🐤 AMIABLE EASTER TREATS 🐰
Of course the Alphabet Soup kitchen helpers were all thrilled to meet the Amiable Guinea-pig. As it usually happens around this time of year, whiskers begin to twitch and we inevitably crave carrots.
Peter Rabbit suggested we make some carrot cupcakes in honor of our special guest, so we called upon Hoppy Vanderhare, a.k.a., Le Lapin Rotund, to take the lead. Special guests call for special equipment, so Hoppy borrowed Peter’s spatulas, because they magically make any food extra delicious, and she also wore her hand-knitted carrot ear warmers instead of her toque.
The recipe is a family favorite. Years ago, Aunty Ella sent it to me while I was living in London. Whenever I make it, I think about England, which seems quite fitting since we’re all about Beatrix Potter this week.
As with any good recipe, this one can be tweaked according to preference. I do like the addition of crushed pineapple (keeps things very moist), but you could also add golden raisins or shredded coconut for even more texture. If using sweetened coconut, I would use half white sugar and half brown sugar. The cream cheese frosting is pretty standard; I rarely add an entire pound of powdered sugar to the butter/cream cheese mixture. I simply add the sugar gradually, tasting as I go, until I deem it sweet enough.
The only tricky part to making these is preventing any rabbit helpers from eating the carrots while you’re trying to grate them. 🙂
🍍 14 CARROT CUPCAKES 🍍
- 2 cups sugar
- 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2-1/2 cups grated carrots
- (1) 8-oz can drained crushed pineapple
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Cream Cheese Frosting:
- l pound powdered sugar (1 box)
- 8 tablespoons soft butter (1 stick)
- 8-oz. cream cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two muffin/cupcake pans or use paper liners. Set aside.
2. Beat together the sugar, oil, eggs and one teaspoon vanilla in a large bowl.
3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
4. Add the flour mixture to the eggs/sugar/oil in the large bowl, mixing until the dry ingredients are well incorporated into the batter.
5. Mix together the grated carrots, pineapple and walnuts, then add to the batter, stirring just until blended.
6. Fill cupcake pans 3/4 full and bake at 350 degrees for about 18-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes up clean. Cool completely before frosting.
To make the frosting:
1. Soften the butter and cream cheese. Sift the powdered sugar.
2. Beat the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat well.
3. Add the chopped nuts to the frosting mixture or sprinkle over the top of the frosted cupcakes as a garnish.
~ Makes about two dozen cupcakes.
The magic spatulas worked! The Amiable Guinea-pig LOVED the carrot cupcakes. He appreciated all the extra attention and felt much better about not having his own book. It was when he and Peter were trading Miss Potter stories that Peter remembered the blackberries. You probably know that after his close call with Mr. McGregor, Peter’s mother put him to bed with chamomile tea, while lucky Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.
Well, even though it’s been well over one hundred years, Peter is STILL jealous (and likely, still as naughty). SO, Mr. Cornelius made some of the stuff just to satisfy him. We recommend it whenever you’re craving a simple bowl of comfort — the combination of fresh blackberries, cubes of bread, brown sugar and warm milk speaks of British nurseries, cuddly bunnies, and cozy afternoons.
BREAD AND MILK AND BLACKBERRIES
Ingredients for 3 people:
- 3 thick slices of white bread
- brown sugar to taste
- about 1/2 pint of milk
- 3 heaped tablespoons of blackberries
Cut the bread into small squares with a knife and put into three bowls.
Sprinkle with brown sugar.
Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Warm the milk but do not let it boil.
Pour the milk over the bread in the bowls, then sprinkle the blackberries over the top.
~ Adapted from Peter Rabbit’s Cookery Book, compiled by Anne Emerson (Warne, 1986).
* * *
With that, we wish you a very HAPPY EASTER!
♥ To read all about Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig (you really should), click here. 🙂
♥ Special Treat: Read this cool article, “The very best of Beatrix” by Matthew Dennison from the January 27, 2016 issue of Country Life Magazine.
🎈 BOOK GIVEAWAY WINNERS!🎈
We have two lucky winners to announce today — extra reason to twitch our whiskers and do a hippy happy hoppy bunny hop.
Are you ready?
The winner of a brand new copy of
THE FOREST FEAST FOR KIDS
Danzel of Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes!
The winner of a brand new copy of
MORE THAN ENOUGH
🎉🎉🎉 Congratulations Danzel and Bev!!! 🎉🎉🎉
Please send your snail mail addresses to receive your books!
Thanks, everyone for reading and commenting!
* * *
🌺 2016 NATIONAL POETRY MONTH KIDLITOSPHERE ROUNDUP 🌺
Once again, I’m collecting links from any poetry-loving bloggers who are doing special projects for Poetry Month. Please send your info to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com, and I’ll happily add you to the Roundup. Also, please help spread the word via your social networks or any relevant listservs. The post will go up next week and I’ll continue to update throughout April. Thanks so much!!
Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Roundup at My Juicy Little Universe. Hop on over and check out the full menu of poetic goodies being shared in the blogosphere this week. Hope the Easter Bunny brings you lots of tasty treats!
This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your aprons and bunny ears, and come join the fun!
Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.