Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chocolate Obsession!

Not to toot my own horn, but I made the GREATEST chocolate cake from scratch today! It was moist, creamy, and ooey-gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolaty. One delectable bite and my mind begin to swirl with all of my favorite books that revolve around chocolate.

So grab one of these tasty books, a handful of chocolate chips (or a piece of the aforementioned chocolate cake) and enter the gates of chocolate heaven. Mmm...

Chocolate Picture Books

The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum

By: Deborah Blumenthal

We've all thrown a kick-your-feet-on-floor and scream at the top of your lungs tantrum over chocolate cookies, right? This book never fails to crack me up, even though I'd like to think I've outgrown my chocolate tantrum phase.

Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot

By: Margot Theis Raven

During World War II, an American pilot began dropping chocolate candy in parachutes made from handkerchiefs to the children of West Berlin. Although it's a much more serious read, the illustration are beautiful and the historical aspect is fascinating.

I loved this book as a kid! While George and the man with the yellow hat stop at a chocolate store, George joins a tour of the factory to learn about how chocolates are made. Of course, in true George fashion, he finds his way to major trouble.

Chocolate Chapter Books

The Chocolate Touch

By: Patrick Skene Catling

Chocolate pancakes. Chocolate bacon. Chocolate soda. Chocolate gloves? What would you do if everything you touched turned to chocolate?

By: Roald Dahl

Sure, you've seen both versions of the movie, but you haven't tasted anything until you read Roald Dahl's scrumdiddlyumptious masterpiece of a novel. As much as I worship Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (told from Charlie Bucket's point of view) trumps the big screen version any old day.

To make the world's greatest chocolate cake recipe click HERE.
So...what is your favorite chocolate treat??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Moral of the Story Is...

I've been on a fable kick. First, The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary, then Arnold Lobel's Fables, and now Squids will be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables. This book of important life lessons is brought to you by Jon Scieszka (You know, the guy who wrote The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Quite the cool guy, I know.)

It's one of those books that gets funnier with repeated readings. And it's even funnier if you read it to a bunch of fourth graders who have a wicked sense of humor and love a good moral.

Right away you sense the type of book this is going to be. Maybe it's in the title, or the colorful, yet peculiar illustrations that are not unlike Stinky Cheese. Or perhaps it's the age range written in tiny font on the inside jacket flap (Age: 49-630 in dog years).

The introduction gives a nice overview of the history of fables, complete with a short Aesop biography. I like this part:

Fables have been around for thousands of years. And it's no wonder. Because even thousands of years ago people were bright enough to figure out that you could gossip about anybody--as long as you changed their name to something like "Lion" or "Mouse" or "Donkey" first. (Pretty clever, huh? I wish I had been on my fables kick back when I was in school. My brother would have been named "Baboon.")

Squids Will Be Squids is a collection of random, outrageous, laugh-out-loud-even-if-you-don't-get-it fables that Mr. Aesop may or may not have written back in his day. The morals, although seriously bizarre, are full of wisdom if you listen carefully enough. I highly suggest you read this book two or three times and you'll come away with a new outlook on life, if not a hearty belly laugh.

Check out Jon Scieszka's website for boys called Guys Read here:

Recipe to Read By: Elephant Ears (Named after my favorite fable entitled Elephant and Mosquito.)

Ingredients: A box of puff pastry, cinnamon and sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

2. Thaw the puff pastry. (Microwave for 10 seconds at a time until bendable).

3. Lay the sheet on the table and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and tablespoon of cinnamon. Spread the mixture and make sure that all of the dough is covered.

4. Stare at the dough like it's a Magic Eye poster and find the center. Mark it with your knife if you want. Next, starting with the right side, begin to roll the dough one inch deep, stopping before reaching the center. Continue with the left side. Once both sides are rolled up, fold on top of each other. (Basically, you are rolling each side towards each other and then creating one ginormous roll of elephant ears. Mmmm.)

5. Slice the huge roll into 1/2 thick pieces and lay flat on the cookie sheet.

6. Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry, if you haven't eaten it already. Puff pastry is goo-ood.

7. Cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown and you can smell the cinnamon and sugar in the oven.

8. As soon as the cookies are finished cooking, remove them from the oven and remove from the cookie sheet and let rest. (If the cookies are left on the cookie sheet the sugar will harden and the cookies will stick).

9. Serve and enjoy!

10. Moral: Food and books go together like peanut butter and baloney sandwiches. Am I the only one who eats that? Pickles and salsa? Doritos and hot chocolate? Well, you know what I mean!

Recipe courtesy of Watch the video on how to make them here!

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