Book Cookin’ Thursday #3: Three Broomsticks’ Butterbeer

I feel calm…but maybe that’s the rum.

Butterbeer, served hot or cold, the drink of choice for the hardworking wizard students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And today, it is the drink of choice for Kerry and her very good sport husband J!

In case you’re not fluent in Potter, butterbeer is a slightly alcoholic drink favoured by wizarding children (only house elves really get hammered on butterbeer, don’t worry). Today it can be found at Universal Studios, and they are VERY careful with their recipe. Its not even on pinterest! So after having no luck with google-ing “official butterbeer recipe” at work for 45 minutes, I landed on a website that had taste-tested all of the unofficial recipes, and comparing them to the real one (This is where I would normally make a joke about nerds not having a life, but today I went to 5 stores to find clear cream soda to make butterbeer for my blog so…I will not make that joke).

The winner, according to the internet, is the Huffington post version , and I will be making the cold drink (it can also be served hot, like a hot toddy).

Butterbeer made its first appearance in the 3rd Harry Potter book: Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban, it generally costs 2 sickles (about 60 pence). And it is magical!

I’ve written out the recipe below, Be sure to note my changes (in red) so you can taste exactly what’s going on in my mouth right now! Deliciousness!

Servings-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream (or whipping cream)
  • 1/2 tsp of rum extract (or just use real dark rum…and more like a half shot per glass)
  • 4 bottles of clear cream soda (save yourself the trouble and just go to a grocery store with an international aisle. They are the ONLY people in the world to stock clear cream soda)
  • Wand optional

Instructions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook, stirring often, until a candy thermometer reads 240 degrees. If you don’t want to buy a candy thermometer, because that sounds like something out of Willy Wonka, just boil it until it looks like its doing something new. About 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the butter, salt, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the heavy cream. Set aside to cool slowly to room temperature. Then get bored with that and put it in the fridge to finish cooling, but make sure to stir it often so it doesn’t solidify.
  3. Once the mixture has cooled, add the rum extract. Rum. And forget to add it here, add it at the end. As long as it is added before the cream soda, you’re fine.
  4. With a hand mixer, make the topping: Blend with an electric beater the rest of the cream and 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar mixture.
  5. Divide up the rest of the brown sugar mixture into frosty mugs (Toronto Maple Leafs beer steins). Pour a quarter of the cream soda into each glass and stir to combine, then add the rest of the soda. Top with the whipped topping.

Mischief Managed!

He probably didn’t mean nostalgic binge-reading old Sweet Valley High books…and he DEFINITELY would take issue with all you “50 Shades” readers. But the point remains. Reading is good for your brains 🙂

 

 

Book Cookin’ Thursday #2 Green Eggs and Ham

You may like them.
You will see.
You may like them
in a tree!

Did you know that this book (Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham) exists because of a bet? Dr. Seuss’ publisher, Bennett Cerf, bet him 50$ that he couldn’t create a book with any sort of plot using solely the 50 one syllable words from the first grade curriculum. Obviously, he won that bet.
Other fun facts about Dr. Seuss? Yertle the Turtle was originally drawn with a Hitler mustache, and the good Doctor once threatened to sue a anti-abortion organization for using a quote from “Horton hears a Who”. The more I learn, the more I love him!

So for my second week of book cookin’ Thursday, I set out to make some green eggs and ham, a la Sam-I-Am. I got the official recipe off of the Seussville website here.
Modifications: most of the recipe suggests having an adult on hand to cut the ham, and light the stove, but I felt like I could handle it 😉 I made the deluxe GE&H, because…go big or go home, right?

Yes! The recipe was geared towards children. Does this mitigate my feelings of success? No! I thoroughly enjoyed the fruits of my labor on toast! While wearing my One Fish-Two Fish t-shirt because who doesn’t love a theme lunch?

Put a little silly in your day, read some Seuss and make some GE&H!! Eat them in a box, with a fox, On a boat, with a goat. Eat them here or eat them there, you can eat them anywhere!

Review Time: Beautiful Day

I’m at that age where many people around me are getting engaged/ married. I myself got married this past August.  So I feel like I can say, with a fair amount of certainty, that weddings, more than any other social convention, are inherently wrought with drama. Of course the negative drama comes to mind first, as it is the subject of many TLC/ Slice reality T.V. shows. Hurt feelings over a mothers’ dress not worn, last minute hair catastrophe (I once had to handle a brides’ last minute toenail emergency!), the inevitable disagreements over the invite list and my favorite: unsavory speech content.
But at the same time, weddings bring out the more “positive” drama as well. Happy tears, Dads who call florists looking for 18 ivory roses the night before the wedding, sisters who overcome public speaking fears just to tell the bride how much they love her.

Like I said, for better or worse, weddings are wrought with drama. This must be why people like writing about them so much!

Beautiful Day by Elin Hildenbrand is the story of the wedding of Jenna Carmichael to Stuart Graham. What would be your typical story of 2 families coming together to witness this blessed union (bringing with them their collective dramatics) is made a little more interesting. The wedding was planned, from readings to cake, by Jennas’ mother Beth, who died 5 years prior. In the 8 months between her diagnosis of ovarian cancer and her passing, Beth wrote out all of her advice and plans and dreams for her youngest daughter in “The Notebook”.

Welling up yet?

Excerpts from the notebook are interspersed throughout the novel, adding another layer to the story. The voice of Beth in these entries is painfully optimistic, the forced cheerfulness of a woman who is planning a wedding she knows she won’t see. She tries to infuse this Notebook with a ‘mother of the bride’-ness, slightly bossy, supportive, sentimental and careful to never be angry at the unfair cards she’s been dealt. The rest of the characters struggle not only with their own individual lives, but to get through the first momentous occasion since losing the family matriarch. At the centre of this story are 3 primary narrators: Margot, the oldest Carmichael child and maid of honour. Margot is working through her own complicated love life, raising 3 children and trying to fill in for her mother. Doug, the father of the bride who is struggling to simultaneously mourn his wifes’ absence and celebrate his daughters’ marriage. Lastly Ann, the mother of the groom, with family drama of her own, learning about humility and second chances.

This book is a fun and easy read, but not lacking in depth or drama. The characters are flawed but likable, and you truly feel for them. As a fictional book about a wedding, Beautiful Day falls squarely under “beach/vacation read”, but it’s one that I would read anytime.

Check this out!

A friend at work send me this picture from her commute home. In the Bathurst/ St. Clair ‘hood, someone has a front yard lending library! When I was little, more than once I would try to set my book collection up for lending. I started glueing envelopes into all of my books. Unfortunately, I’ve always lacked follow through, so the closest I ever got to a library was making my brother sign out his children’s bible before church until my mom yelled at me for “withholding the word of god”.

I love used books, and donating books I’ve loved back into the world to be enjoyed by someone else, so I LOVE this!

The ultimate bookworm has a library at home!
The ultimate bookworm has a library at home!

 

Book Cookin’ Thursday

If there’s one thing in the world that I love as much as I love books, its food. So when books and food intersect, I am one happy camper. Now, this is where you might be expecting an inventory of books about food (which I will probably write eventually). Right now however, I’m going to do something a little different.
Every Thursday (until I run out of ideas and/or lose interest), I am going to make a snack/meal/drink based on or featured in a book. Things like Harry Potters’ Butterbeer and Ratatouilles’ Ratatouille. Feel free to try them along with me, these snacks would be so lovely at a book club meeting, a book-themed party or even just any old Thursday!
Lets get to it!

Book Cookin’ Thursday #1: Megs’ Blancmange (From Louisa May Alcotts’ “Little Women”)
You can follow along with the recipe here

“Mother sent her love, and was glad if I could do anything for you. Meg wanted me to bring some of her blanc-mange; she makes it very nicely”

First of all, if you haven’t read Little Women, shame on you. You can get it in e-book format for free via Project Gutenberg.
Secondly, did anyone else know that this was a pudding? I honestly thought it was like a pastry of sorts. How on earth did these girls always bring this over to people’s houses? It seems like the least portable treat in the world. Anyway, here goes nothing.

1. Assemble your ingredients
Always assemble your ingredients. Because sometimes there isn’t a husband around to make an emergency trip to the store for more butter. My only regret at this point is that I don’t have an apron. How cute would it be to make blancmange in an apron? If this doesn’t work out, I blame my lack of proper costuming.

2. Cook!
Because I’m a rebel like that, I made some modifications. I used the zest of the lemon and left it in, and some vanilla bean seeds instead of extract. All actions that had been done by people who wrote in the comment section of the recipe, so it’s still authentic. 15 minutes later, it’s done! This recipe was actually pretty simple! Go team!

3. The wa-ay-ting is the hardest part

Chill 6 hours? But I want my blancmange now!

4. Hour 6, 8 and 12: Still Just Milk

Maybe it was the lemon zest, maybe I didn’t boil it long enough. No one seemed to have any issues with the recipe itself, so I’m going to chalk this one up to just plain old bad luck (and likely something about not reading instructions well enough….that’s a recurring issue).

At any rate, I’m going to have to call this a fail.

Meg March: 1

Kerry: 0

Whatever, Meg, at least I didn’t marry the help 😉

Next week I go up against the notorious Sam. Sam-I-Am. Get pumped!

Plights of a Bookworm 4: “I’m not bored, I’m reading”

Like my fictional hero, Rory Gilmore, I almost always have at least one book on my person. So when bits of time come up, I can read. I read, to quote the great Dr. Seuss, while waiting for a train to go, or a bus to come, or a plane to go, for the mail to come or the rain to go. But my very best reading time is on my lunch break at work. I can take 30 minutes, forget all about work problems, and just chill out with my salad and my book. It is the very best part of my day.

Until.

Some well-meaning soul comes along to “rescue” me from my apparent boredom. The problem is that they are sorely mistaken. There is literally not one other thing I would rather be doing right now. I especially don’t want to be listening to how shitty your day is and then seeing pictures of you and your wife on vacation. I have my own shitty day and my own unflattering bathing suit pictures to deal with, and I’m trying to forget about them by READING MY BOOK.

If I was typing away on a laptop, you wouldn’t bother me. If I was talking on the phone, you wouldn’t bother me. Reading is not something I do because I don’t have anyone to eat lunch with. I deliberately take a late lunch and sit by myself so I might have time to read another Malcolm Gladwell essay, or finish The Book Thief so I can review it later.

I would say about 70% of the population understands that my book is a “Do not Disturb” sign, and to them I say, thank you. Your thoughtfulness in sitting at another table makes it possible for me to re-charge and be my charming and lovely self in the second half of my day. The rest of you need to listen up:

I’m not bored. I’m reading.