Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Miraculous Reappearance of a Childhood Favorite

Last year, our media center went through some major changes. Although we gained a wonderful array of new literature, any book with a copyright date before the year 2000 was plucked from the shelves and boxed away.

Yes, totally serious.

No Roald Dahl. No Ramona. No (sniff) Babysitters Club!! Preposterous, I know!! Anyhoot, last week I was combing the noticeably sparse book shelves and my eyeballs happened to land on one of my absolute childhood favorites, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Huh? Could it be?? A classic has remained on our shelves?? I rushed it over to our media aide who immediately turned to the front cover and scrolled her finger down until she found the copyright date. 1963. She began to explain to me that the book must have been lost when the Heartless Book Folk came in to clear the shelves and apparently was returned at a later date. Upon hearing this fantastic news, I clutched the book to my chest and proclaimed it a miracle upon miracles that the book was saved and I made a solemn vow to protect it from the Heartless Book Folk.
That night I crawled in bed with my newly discovered miracle book and transported myself back to fifth grade.

Master storyteller Joan Aiken weaves a spellbinding story that takes place in 18th century Victorian England. Little Bonnie lives in the majestic Willoughby mansion with her adoring parents and slew of servants and maids. Her mother, Lady Green, is not well and she and Lord Willoughby set off to find warmer temperatures in hopes of curing her illness. While her parents are gone, Miss Slighcarp takes over the household, firing all of the beloved servants, wearing Lady Green's expensive gowns, and generally being up to no good. Despite the best efforts of Bonnie, her cousin Silvia, their trusting maid Pattern, and Simon, the goose boy, their plans go awry and Miss Slighcarp banishes the two girls to a cruel orphanage while leading them to believe their parents are dead.  

This book has all of the elements of a fantastic bedtime story: rags-to-riches plot, an evil villainess, a cruel orphanage, strong heroes and heroines, and a happy ending. It also proves that incredible stories don't have to lie behind new, glossy covers and 2009 copyright dates. So take that, Heartless Book Folk.

Recipe to Read By: Miracle Cookies
These cookies received their name because they only involve four measly ingredients and ten minutes of your precious time, plus they taste heavenly.
Yep, miracle cookies for a miracle book.

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten well
2 teaspoons vanilla

Mix peanut butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Whatever flies out of the bowl is fair game for snacking!
Roll dough in little balls about 3/4 of an inch big.
Place balls on cookie sheet and flatten with the tines of a fork.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
Let cool before grabbing your book and a mug of milk.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Waffles, Anyone?

I had completely forgotten how much I ADORE this book until one of my book clubs chose to read it a couple of weeks ago. The main character, Primrose Squarp, is a precocious eleven year old with a heart of gold and a penchant for causing accidents. Her parents have been lost at sea for months, and while everyone else has considered them long gone, Primrose refuses to give up hope. Her witty comments and thoughts about life have us giggling long after the book has been closed and there are quite a few scenes (such as accidentally setting her class hamster on fire) that had us rolling on the floor with tears in our eyes. Of course, I love the fact that she includes a recipe at the end of every chapter (I must say--the tuna noodle casserole is dee-lish!).

Recipe to Read By: Chocolate Waffles Supreme
Here's a waffle recipe that would make Miss Bowzer proud:

1 1/2 cups Original Bisquick® mix
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 eggs

Spray waffle iron with butter spray (be careful to aim away from your eyes--that stuff can burn!) and heat until ready. In medium bowl, stir all waffle ingredients with spoon until blended. Pour batter onto hot waffle iron.

Bake each waffle about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle with something other than your fingers. Serve with one of the topping ideas below or experiment with your own.

Topping Ideas:
The Traditional: Strawberries and whipped cream
The Sticky: A big glob of peanut butter and a sprinkle of mini-marshmallows (my fave!)
The Chocolate Stomachache: Chocolate chips, chocolate syrup, chocolate sprinkles
The Fluffernutter: Banana slices, peanut butter, marshmallow fluff (eat like a sandwich if you like!)
The Strange but Tasty: Crumbled bacon, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, strawberry jam

Any more suggestions?? Lay 'em on me!