Browsing Tag

children’s

book review, recipe

A Wrinkle in Time + Hot Chocolate

As you would probably expect, I read a lot when I was a kid. I remember reading my first chapter book (Black Beauty) in first grade, leading to a slight obsession with horses that continued into middle school. I have fond memories of my mom reading to my sister and me at night, with books like Stuart Little and The Borrowers that fueled my early interest in writing stories of my own. I also devoured The Baby-Sitters Club series and Nancy Drew novels, though honestly anything I could get my hands on was fair game. However, there were a few key books I’d missed (mostly because I watched the movies and/or didn’t realize they were based on books in the first place) such as The Little Princess, The Secret Garden, Little Women, and The Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve rectified many of those misses in recent years, but A Wrinkle in Time was still outstanding.

For those of you who don’t know, there’s a movie adaptation coming out next year starring Mindy Kaling, Reese Witherspoon and Oprah, which is what really prompted me to pick it up at last. That and the fact that I found out the main character is named Meg. She and her three brothers live at home with their mother, who is a scientist. Their father, also a scientist, is no longer home and (depending on who Meg is talking to, or perhaps it was how I read it) it’s implied that he’s just gone on some sort of scientific mission and will be back eventually, or that he’s dead. Two of her brothers are twins and quite athletic, and Charles, her youngest brother, has a unique way of reading people. It is because of this skill that three mysterious beings named Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which come into their home and ultimately take Meg, Charles and their neighbor Calvin on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Since it’s a children’s book, it didn’t take long to read – I think I read it in an afternoon. It was absolutely entertaining, but because it had quite a lot of science (real or otherwise) and had some really abstract concepts, I found myself wondering, “Is this something kids can really understand?” (If any of my readers who read this as a kid and as an adult can provide some perspective here, that would be helpful.)

I decided to make hot chocolate to go along with this book, because not only is it comforting, but it features prominently in the scene where Mrs. Whatsit first appears, on a dark and stormy night. It was actually quite dark and stormy the night I concocted the hot chocolate myself, so I think it worked out nicely. 🙂

I followed a recipe from Ashlee Marie for the World’s Best Hot Chocolate and thankfully it was very straightforward. (Nothing more frustrating than just wanting something quick and comforting and finding out you don’t have the right ingredients or it’s a hassle to make.)

First, I combined the cocoa, sugar and salt in a saucepan. Then, I added the water and brought the mixture to a boil. I allowed it to boil for 1 minute, before adding the milk. Then, I continued heating the hot chocolate until it was the temperature we like – not too hot, not too cold. Probably a few more minutes is ideal, at most.

I poured it into our mugs and topped them with whipped cream, which I always like to cool it down and break up the richness of the chocolate. We settled down in the living room while the storm boomed around us and enjoyed!

World’s Best Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2-4
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Ingredients

  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, mix the dry ingredients.
  2. Add the water and bring to a boil, keep boiling for one min.
  3. Then add the milk and heat until it’s the temperature you like.
  4. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, stir and serve. Top with marshmallows, whipped cream, or your preference. Enjoy!


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of interest

Lemony Snicket on Netflix + Unfortunate Recipes

The movie in 2004 was my first exposure to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I still haven’t read the books, but after this latest article from NPR about all of the delicious food to be found throughout the series – “often [as] a supporting character,” I may just be tempted to give them a try too! At the very least, these recipes for pasta puttanesca, chilled  cucumber soup and coconut cream cake are worth a taste.

book review, recipe

The Secret Garden + Baked Oatmeal

I’ve watched the movie The Secret Garden countless times since I was a child (it came out when I was about 7), but until now, I had never read the book. While looking for a “palette cleanser” after my last read, I was delighted to find this on my shelf. I immediately dove in.

secret-garden

A children’s classic, The Secret Garden has been around since 1911. Orphaned in India, Mary Lennox is brought to live at her reclusive uncle’s mansion in England. She is pale and very thin and has a sour disposition. With some prodding from Martha, the housemaid who brings her meals, Mary begins exploring the grounds. She learns of a secret garden that no one has set foot in for ten years and becomes determined to find it.

Spending time outdoors fuels Mary’s appetite, causing her to put on weight and gain some color in her cheeks. Not only does her health improve, her disposition begins to improve as well. Following the sounds of his cries one night, Mary encounters a cousin she didn’t know she had, a sickly boy named Colin. He is spoiled as she once was, moody and prone to tantrums. He has spent most of his life in his bedroom.

Mary tells him about the secret garden and he too becomes invested in finding it. When she’s not outside in the garden, she regales him with stories about the friendly robin, who shows her the way inside, and Martha’s brother Dickon, who helps her bring it back to life. Colin longs to see it himself and covert arrangements are made so that he can visit it nearly every day.

With fresh air and a renewed spirit, Colin, like Mary before him, begins to regain his health and become more agreeable. The cousins notice, proudly, that they are both getting fatter and stronger by the day. When they are not sneaking roast potatoes and eggs in the garden, they are gobbling down meals of sizzling ham and snow-white eggs at meal times. 

For me, Mary’s first breakfast at Misselthwaite Manor has always been memorable, and I was pleased to see the scene in the book is similar to the one in the movie. When Martha presents her with the porridge (served with “a bit o’ treacle” and a “bit o’ sugar”), she refuses. As she finds her appetite, Mary happily finishes her porridge (and anything else!) when it’s presented to her.     

I found a recipe for Baked Oatmeal with Brown Sugar and Molasses, and decided to make iit on our first chilly, fall morning last weekend. Nothing like a cozy bowl of porridge and a cup o’ tea to warm you up.

A very simple recipe, it’s easy to make even when you’re sleepy first thing in the morning. First, I combined all of the dry ingredients (oats, cinnamon, sugars and baking powder) in a small bowl.

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To that mixture, I added the wet ingredients – molasses, butter extract (which smelled delicious), vanilla extract, milk, water and apple cider vinegar. I know adding the vinegar sounds odd, but as the original recipe warns, do not skip it. Despite adding it, I still found the final product quite sweet and I can’t imagine it without. You can’t even taste it, I promise.

I poured it into two prepared single-serving bowls and baked for about 25 minutes. The bowls I had (or, actually, borrowed from a friend – thanks, Deanna!) were only oven-safe up to 350 degrees, so I couldn’t broil as recommended for the last 3-4 minutes and was left without the crispy top. The oatmeal was excellent anyway, but if you’re able and so inclined, give the broiling a try.

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Baked Oatmeal with Brown Sugar and Molasses

  • Servings: 2 half cup servings
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Adapted from: Food Faith Fitness

Ingredients

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 2 TBS sugar
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ cup 2% milk
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 TBS molasses
  • ½ tsp butter-flavored extract (optional)
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray 2 small baking dishes (single serving sized) with cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the oats, cinnamon, brown sugar, sugar and baking powder.
  4. Add in the milk, water, molasses, vanilla extract, butter extract, and apple cider vinegar.
  5. Pour into prepared baking dish and bake for 25 minutes.
  6. If able, turn oven to HIGH broil and broil for the last 3-4 minutes, making sure it doesn’t burn.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes so you don’t burn your mouth off and then devour!