You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Recipes’ tag.

Time to grab your backpack, notebook and Dixon Ticonderoga #2’s—it’s back-to-school time! But hey, let’s make this year a little more interesting, shall we?

How about candy-coated pencils for sucking in class? YES!!! *fist pump* (Remember, I’m from Jersey.)

I don’t deserve credit here. Back in 1994, just a few years after Roald Dahl’s passing, his widow Liccy compiled truly inspired recipes for the book ROALD DAHL’S REVOLTING RECIPES, based on his darkly humorous children’s tales.

There’s George’s Marvelous Medicine Chicken Soup from GEORGE’S MARVELOUS MEDICINE, Mr. Twit’s Beard Food from THE TWITS, and Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes Most Delicately Fried from JAMES AND THE GIANT PEACH. And while these treats might not be on your next tea party list, there’s also sweet favorites like Bunce’s Donuts from FANTASTIC MR. FOX and Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake from MATILDA.

But considering the time of year, I thought it would be fun to share a recipe for making daydreaming in class a little sweeter.


Makes 6

You will need:

  • 6 pencils (Dahl’s favorite were Dixon Ticonderoga #2’s)
  • Play-Doh or other modeling clay (for standing pencils up)
  • candy thermometer (optional)
  • buttered 8X10 rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper
  • buttered knife
  • 1/2 pound sugar cubes
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 TBSP water
  • large pinch cream of tartar
  • few drops flavoring and food coloring
  1. Put sugar and water in saucepan over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Raise the heat. When syrup is almost boiling, add cream of tartar and a warmed candy thermometer.
  3. Boil without stirring to 250 degrees F, or until a little bit of the syrup dropped into cold water forms a hard ball (a ball that will hold its shape but still be pliable).
  4. Remove from heat, add flavoring and coloring. Do not over-stir and be careful, mixture is very hot.
  5. Pour mixture into rimmed, lined baking sheet. Edges will cool more quickly then the center, so as the mixture cools, turn the edges inward with a buttered knife, but do not stir.
  6. Working quickly, lay 2/3rds of a pencil (not the pointed end) on top of the mixture. Using the buttered knife, lift up the candy and gently wrap it around the pencil. You can create all sorts of shapes before it hardens. When the candy is almost set, stand the pencil point side down into the clay. Try not to touch the candy now, as you’ll leave fingerprints.
  7. Repeat step 6 with other pencils.

Note: Do not double the recipe to make more. Make additional batches instead.

That’s it! Now suck away in class, but don’t tell your teacher who gave you the recipe! I don’t want to get in trouble!

While ROALD DAHL’S REVOLTING RECIPES seems to be out of print, it has been resurrected several times. I suspect it will be released again. But if you just can’t wait to devour SNOZZCUMBERS or LICKABLE WALLPAPER, I suggest checking for a local indie seller.

Bon appetite!

Leaves crackle underfoot and the early-morning air smells like an ice cube. It’s autumn. Time for apple picking and jack-o-lanterns. Time for the annual public library pie contest.

My mother did not bake ordinary pies. Creating a pie was a day’s event, begun with two knives cutting butter and shortening into flour until it resembled sand, a forgotten summer sight resurrected with culinary precision. She floated from cupboard to bowl, bowl to counter with a grace befitting a ballerina. She folded. She whipped. She dolloped. She made the house smell better than Willy Wonka’s factory.

And so, when I was nine years old, I thought my mother finally deserved public acknowledgement of her pie prowess. When I saw a poster announcing our library’s fall pie contest, I entered her name. When I returned home and told her, she was more excited than I was.

Which pie shall it be? The apple-cranberry? No, too predictable. The three-berry pie? No, out of season. Ahh, I know. The chocolate-amaretto chiffon pie.

Children aren’t supposed to have a taste for amaretto. I was the exception. The almond-flavored liquor enhanced the chocolate flavor so well, I thought I might faint. Her creation began with homemade chocolate pudding, then a tall dome of fresh whipped cream, onto which she drizzled an amaretto-chocolate reduction. Slivered almonds and chocolate shavings dotted the top evenly, like she had artfully arranged each piece with tweezers. I do not know how we transported the pie unscathed, but we arrived and unveiled the masterpiece to such gasps of amazement, the librarians had to shush us.

The event boasted eight pies, but zero competition. An apple pie with a rustic crust appeared soggy and deflated. Mom’s hand-fluted crust resembled the delicate ripples of a golden pond. My teeth stuck together at the sight of the gummy shoo-fly pie. The chocolate-amaretto pie melted on the tongue.

A librarian instructed three judges to score the pies on a scale of 1 to 3 according to three criteria: appearance, taste and originality. Yes, yes and yes. She would win all three. I would be so proud. She would remember that it was I, her eldest daughter, who launched her pie celebrity.

Then one judge glanced at another’s appearance score for Mom’s pie. “Wow, you’re a tough cookie!” she said. Translation: Mom probably received a 1 from the Russian Judge instead of a well-deserved 3. There would be a contest after all.

Tasting came next. The judges took one bite of each pie. There was tongue swishing, water gulping, and lip pursing. A gentle scribble, scribble on their note cards.

Finally, originality. With pumpkin, pecan, and plain ol’ lemon meringue, Mom’s fusion of almond and chocolate would take that category for certain.

Our entire family waited nervously for the awards to be announced. The whipped cream on Mom’s pie stood high and tall, proud and confident.

“Third place: the shoo-fly pie!” A tiny, elderly woman shuffled to the front of the room and accepted a ribbon and a cookbook. She posed for the town photographer.

If Mom did not take second, then I knew first prize would be hers.

“Second place: the pumpkin pie!”

Hooray! Victory! A pie for the record books! A pie to launch a career! My mother, the world’s best baker! Or, at least the best baker in this town of 20,000! My face warmed with excitement.

“And the winner is…and we have to say, this was a unanimous decision…the apple pie!”

What?! That sorry-looking blob? It’s just APPLE! Anyone can make an apple pie! It takes a creative genius to pair chocolate with amaretto (especially in 1979, before The Food Network)!

The worst part of the defeat was that the woman who won was not even present. Yep, it was a drive-by pie.

First prize remained on the judging table, unwrapped and unclaimed. I could only imagine what it might be–and it was far grander in my mind than in reality, I’m sure. The big fish that got away, growing ever longer over the years.

Once the winners were announced, the pies were cut and plates distributed. And which pie do you think disappeared first? Mom’s chocolate-amaretto chiffon. Our family snubbed the other pies and dug into our favorite.

In the end, I learned that people prefer the familiar and comfortable. That’s what Mom’s pie was to me, a little piece of her. The extraordinary was ordinary in our home, and that’s a family legacy I’m striving to uphold.

Pie, anyone?

Like this site? Please order one of my books! It supports me & my work!

Enter your email to receive kidlit news, writing tips, book reviews & giveaways. Wow, such incredible technology! Next up: delivery via drone.

Join 14,057 other subscribers

My Books

Blog Topics