[review + giveaway] The Little Library Cookbook by Kate Young

“Imagine, if you can, what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and leaped and made so much of itself in the little grate. How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot, savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffins enough for both of them.” ~ A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Reading Kate Young’s new cookbook is like sitting in the kitchen with a good friend and chatting endlessly about cherished stories while noshing on all manner of sweet and savory homemade treats.

Fancy a Room with a View iced coffee and meringue, a stack of Pippi Longstocking Swedish Pancakes, a slice of Moominland Pear and Lemon Birthday Cake, or a Franny and Zooey Chicken Sandwich?

If you’re a fan of her literary food blog, The Little Library Café, or read her Novel Recipes column in The Guardian, you know Kate is Australia-born, but now lives in London, where she works as a private cook and food writer who caters weddings and hosts regular supper clubs. With her lifelong passion for food in literature, she’s been able to strike a delicious chord with accessible, doable recipes and captivating personal stories.

The Little Library Cookbook: 100 Recipes from Your Favorite Books (Sterling Epicure, 2018), might be the most comprehensive literary cookbook I’ve come across in ten years of blogging, since it includes classic and contemporary works of fiction for both children and adults. It was just as much fun reading about old favorites as it was learning about new-to-me titles, which I’m anxious to read now that I know about all the food they contain. I certainly look forward to some stimulating bookish travel: what about Paris for tea (The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford), Holland for warm cinnamon rolls (The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt), or Naples for pizza (My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante)?

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eleven notable noshes on a tuesday

1. Ooh-la-la! There’s a new Crêpes by Suzette picture book app! I’d featured Monica Wellington’s charming story set in Paris back in 2010, so I was happy to learn it’s now been transformed into a fully interactive multimedia experience:

Take your children on a trip to Paris: meet Suzette, the crêpe maker, and her artistic customers in this fun, educational, interactive picture-book app.

As Suzette sells her delicacies over the course of a day, you will be treated to the sights and sounds of one of the most beautiful cities in the world, from Nôtre-Dame to the Eiffel Tower. Suzette’s customers along the way are inspired by works of art, such as da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and Degas’s Little Dancer. You will learn to speak key French words and phrases—with a perfect accent, bien sûr! You can also listen to the narration in five additional languages: French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Japanese. And at the end of the day, a crêpe recipe and DIY cooking lesson await you! As delicious as Suzette’s crêpes, this book app will captivate children—and parents— who will want to make the trip to Paris themselves. Bon voyage!

Immerse yourselves in French culture, with language, food, music and art:

– Interactive Paris map, with fun extras

– Videos of Paris and pictures of its landmarks

– Great introduction to famous paintings and sculptures

– Crêpe recipe and video cooking demos
– English narration read to you by the author

– Interactive hotspots for practicing French

I played with the app and enjoyed all the delightful features, especially being able to tap any of the human or animal characters on the screen to hear them say the French key words. The videos take you right to the places mentioned in the story, and it’s fun seeing how crêpes are made. A great armchair-traveling introduction to this beautiful city featuring sights, street sounds and music that’s designed for Apple and Android devices. Visit Monica’s website for purchase links.


2. Love this SLJ Roundup: “Read It, Make It, Eat It: Great Picture Books with Recipes.” Joy Fleishhacker features eleven tasty titles with great hands-on activities to expand the literary experience. We’ve featured most of the titles here at Alphabet Soup, most recently Baking Day at Grandma’s, Gingerbread for Liberty!, Salsa, A Fine Dessert, and Rainbow Stew. Yum!


3. Do you like to knit? How can you resist this adorable Yoda Tea Cosy? The pattern is available for instant download via TeaCosyFolk on Etsy. I imagine any tea warmed by this cosy will make you a wise person indeed. 🙂


4. How about “51 of the Most Beautiful Sentences in Literature”? BuzzFeed compiled this list awhile ago, but it’s certainly worth rereading to be reminded of great novels or poems you’re familiar with or some you might want to read because of the excerpts. A couple faves: “I would always rather be happy than dignified” (Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre), and “Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” (Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close).


5. I’m a sucker for food art and like the idea of New Jersey artist Jae Yong Kim serving up donuts that never get stale. His are made out of ceramic and sprinkled with Swarovski crystals, white gold and gold luster. Delicious colors and designs!






6. Ever wonder about the bone china the Crawleys use in “Downton Abbey?” I like to watch the episodes multiple times particularly to study the tableware. I’ve finally identified the china used for library tea times as well as formal meals in the dining room. It’s Spode Stafford White, a beautiful Georgian design with scalloped rims and 22-carat gold accents. It would be lovely to own a cup and saucer in this pattern as a memento of the series, which will end with Season 6 airing in the U.S. January 2016. Next I want to identify Dowager Countess Violet’s tea time china pattern — so pretty! I suspect it’s a Spode design as well.



7. Check out UK author Christopher William Hill’s “Top 10 Fictional Feasts.” The grandson of a baker who claims to have grown up obsessed with food, he shares excerpts along with his personal thoughts about the books. I’ve only read about half of the titles, the usual ones by Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, J.K. Rowling, and Lewis Carroll, and must admit he’s piqued my appetite for a serving or two of Enid Blyton, whom he calls the Nigella Lawson of children’s authors.


8. Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky . . . As a panacea for those restless nights in cheap hotels and saw-dust restaurants with oyster shells, treat yourself to a set of J. Alfred Prufrock Coffee and Tea notecards from CS Literary Jewelry. Just curious: have you measured out your life with coffee spoons?


9. For the woman who has everything, consider this handcrafted taco-shaped clutch by Charlotte Olympia. Made of raffia and suede, it is lined with satin and embellished with Swarovski crystals and embroidered silk organza. Stash your bills in this cute little number and at 50% off, it will only take a small bite out of your budget (*cough*).


10. Are you familiar with Sweet Ambs Cookie Art? Amber does exquisite work and her decorating tutorials are fabulous. Click here to see all her tutorials, including Rainbow Cookies, Emoji Cookies, Tie-Dye, Pansies, and Marbled Royal Icing. Here’s a fun sample video — “How to Decorate Cupcake Cookies”:

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11. Finally, check out this “How to Make Gummy Lego Candy” video by Grant Thompson, The King of Random. He’d been experimenting on and off for a few years and came up with a recipe using corn syrup, gelatin, water, and Jello. Have fun making these stackable snackables with your kids!

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wkendcookingiconThis post is being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their food-related posts. Put on your best aprons and bibs, and come join the fun!


Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

summertime mixed plate

by Marjorie Mayes via They Draw and Cook (click to enlarge)

Feeling a little peckish for you don’t know what?

For your nibbling and noshing pleasure:

1. “How to Eat Like Your Favorite Authors” from Flavorwire. Fitzgerald’s suggestions for turkey leftovers are hee-larious. Gotta make Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake sometime.

F. Scott Fitzgerald via Flavorwire

2. Three cool new-to-me blogs that have got me drooling and thinking, thinking and drooling:

  • Paper and Salt: “Part historical discussion, part food and recipe blog, part literary fangirl-ing, Paper and Salt attempts to recreate and reinterpret the dishes that iconic authors discuss in their letters, diaries, essays, and fiction.”
  • Eat This Poem: “Eat This Poem is a collection of recipes inspired by poetry (and occasionally, a pinch of prose) . . . In just a few lines, poetry can illuminate the seemingly small and insignificant moments in our lives and remind us that all the little things matter.”
  • Fictional Food: ” Fictional Food is a blog dedicated to both cooking fictional food and posting about fictional food around the internet. While books are the primary focus, television, game, and movie foods are also featured.”

3. Alimentum: The Literature of Food has discontinued its print journal, but in early July launched a completely revamped website. I’ve subscribed to this unique publication in the past and am happy that I’ll be able to read all their great content (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, book reviews, art) online. The Art Gallery currently features the work of Damon Belanger, who created this neato tarot card:

4. I’m always up for an England fix, and really enjoyed the series of posts Susan Branch wrote about her recent trip. She’s a fellow teapot, Beatrix Potter, and English garden lover and her posts are full of beautiful photographs, watercolors, and heartfelt descriptions of all the wonders that inspire her life and work. This time around she toured the Bridgewater Pottery factory as well as Potter’s Hill Top Farm in the Lake District.

5. Good news for children’s poetry lovers: Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong have edited another ebook collection called, The Poetry Friday Anthology. The book includes a poem a week for the whole school year (K-5) with curriculum connections provided for each poem, each week, each grade level — 218 poems by 75 poets. Available September 1, 2012 — just in time for the 2012-13 school year!

6. Heads up! Happy to see two brand new awards championing cultural diversity in children’s and young adult literature:

*Tu Books, the fantasy, science fiction, and mystery imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, is pleased to announce the first annual NEW VISIONS AWARD. The NEW VISIONS AWARD will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and their standard publication contract, including their basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500. Click here for all the details. Submission deadline: October 30, 2012.

**Just announced August 5th is the ON-THE-VERGE EMERGING VOICES AWARD, sponsored by the SCBWI with funding from Martin and Sue Schmitt of the 455 Foundation. The grant was created to foster the emergence of diverse voices in children’s books, and will be given to two writers or illustrators who are from an ethnic and/or cultural background that is traditionally under-represented in children’s literature in America.

The two winners will each receive an all-expenses paid trip to the SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC to meet with editors and agents, a press release to publishers, a year of free membership to the SCBWI, and an SCBWI mentor for a year. Deadline for submissions: November 15, 2012. Complete manuscripts only via email. More details here.

7. Just in case you’re suffering from a little Downton Abbey withdrawal, check out these lovely on-set photos from Season 3 filming in the Oxfordshire countryside via Marie Claire. Those of us in the U.S. have to wait until January 6, 2013 to see the new series. Sigh. That’s a long time to wait.

In the meantime, we can plan a little Downton Abbey Emmy Party. Did you hear DA earned 16 Emmy noms? Pamela at Downton Abbey Cooks offers some great suggestions for DA-inspired entertaining. Which recipe should I try? The Emmys will air on September 23rd.

8. Want:

Publisher’s description:

“In 1784, Thomas Jefferson struck a deal with one of his slaves, 19-year-old James Hemings. The founding Father was traveling to Paris and wanted to bring James along “for a particular purpose” – to master the art of French cooking. In exchange for James’s cooperation, Jefferson would grant his freedom.

Thus began one of the strangest partnerships in U.S. history. As James apprenticed under master French chefs, Jefferson studied the cultivation of French crops (especially grapes for winemaking) so they might be replicated in American agriculture. The two men returned home with such marvels as pasta, French fries, champagne, macaroni and cheese, crème brûlée, and a host of other treats. This narrative nonfiction book tells the fascinating story behind their remarkable adventure – and includes 12 of their original recipes!”

Read this interesting post about the book at Food and Think, Smithsonian.com.

Coming September 18, 2012!

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Okey dokey. That should give you somethin’ to chew on for awhile. Oh, alright. Have some of my peach almond tart. I’ve noticed that you’re always hungry. Yes I have.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

pat, roll, crimp: picture book bakers

I’ve been patting a few cakes all month long, and having a jolly good time visiting and reading about some of the people who create breads, cookies, cupcakes, pies, and many other favorite treats. More, more, more, I say! Bring on the flour and the dough and the rolling pins. Bring on the batter bowls, pastry tubes, sprinkles and pink icing!

The oven may be hot, but there’s nothing like the warmth emanating from the heart of a baker. In kids’ books, traditionally bakers are portrayed as rotund, benevolent souls. This is true for most of the picture books featured in this post, but I was happy to discover they are also characterized by other admirable qualities: a heroic baker who’s an ingenious nonconformist, one who pours her love into a special bread and sets off a chain of contentment, another who displays kindness and compassion to a stray animal, one who learns to see things from a different point of view, and yet another who learns the lesson of generosity and “invents” the baker’s dozen.

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