celebrating roald dahl’s 100th birthday with a foodie alphabet and an orange raspberry victoria sponge

#53 in an ongoing series of posts celebrating the alphabet.



It’s time to polish off a few tummyticklers, plushnuggets and globgobblers. Wash it all down with a big tall glass of frobscottle and you’re all set (no whizzpopping, please). 🙂

I was actually introduced to Roald Dahl’s writing by one of my high school students in Wimbledon. Danny M. (who made good chocolate chip cookies and scoped out a yummy bagel shop in Queensway) raved about a collection of Dahl’s adult short stories called Kiss Kiss. Though I do not have a taste for the macabre, I found the stories addictive and loved the surprise endings.

After I read as much of his adult fiction as I could find, I moved on to Dahl’s children’s books, impressed by the eyebrow-raising irreverence and sardonic wit, delighted by the clever, inventive wordplay and generous servings of lickswishy, delumptious treats. He was unlike any author I’d read in my childhood. There was nothing Pollyanna or namby pamby about any of his magical stories, and I liked his recurring themes of child empowerment, justice and retribution. He made it okay to be a nonconformist, appealing to the inner rebel in all of us.



Whenever I’m asked about my favorite food-related children’s books, the first that comes to mind is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Here was every child’s dream come true — a world where everything was sweet and edible. I want my own Oompa-Loompas, and even if Mr. Wonka wouldn’t approve, just once I’d like to drink from his river of hot melted chocolate.


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big friendly grub, or, the great pea soup adventure

We’ve had lots more Dahlish excitement here in the alphabet soup kitchen. The other day, the copy of  The BFG  I’d won in Becky Levine’s recent giveaway arrived. WooHoo! I was absolutely thrilled because, love Dahl though I may, I did not own a copy of  his personal favorite. Now I can hardly wait to reread it, that is, if I can get my hands on it long enough.

You see, there’s this little matter of the Paddingtons. Over 30 of them live here, and they all love Becky. That’s because she voted them her favorite bear over Pooh a couple years back (Pooh who?).

A crowd of Becky worshippers gathers.

They cheered when they saw her name on the padded mailer and then, I’m sorry to report, there was a little furry kerfuffle over who should read The BFG first. I wasn’t even in the running, and couldn’t distract them with a freshly made marmalade sandwich. Continue reading

jama and the (not so giant) peach pie

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s into September we go!

Full color paperback edition published this year.

Since it’s Roald Dahl Month, with this year marking the 50th anniversary of James and the Giant Peach, something peachy is definitely in order. Dahl’s birthday is next Tuesday, September 13th, and while I may very well attempt a “revolting recipe” then, this week I’m sticking with peaches, or should I say, I’m sticky with peaches. The very first bookish recipe I shared on alphabet soup back in 2007 was for Peach Cobbler, and I remarked then that it was only fitting to begin a blog with a salute to the author who inspired me to write children’s books in the first place.

Pick a peach, any peach.

Whenever late summer rolls around, and the farmer’s market crates are overflowing with hundreds of those juicy golden orbs, I make my once-a-year peach pie. This year, because of James and the Giant Peach, I decided to step outside my comfort zone a little and try Martha Stewart’s Pate Brisee, which is a fancy French name for an all butter shortcrust.

From past experience, I knew all butter would be a little trickier to handle, but as hope springs eternal with novice bakers, I felt I could manage a double crust rather than a lattice top. So I gathered all the ingredients, closed my eyes, and thought of  Roald. Continue reading