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The Book Lover's Cookbook

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Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature, and the Passages That Feature Them

Written by Shaunda Kennedy WengerAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet JensenAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Janet Jensen


List Price: $13.99


On Sale: March 25, 2009
Pages: 368 | ISBN: 978-0-307-48237-2
Published by : Ballantine Books Ballantine Group
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Recipes Inspired by Celebrated Works of Literature
and the Passages that Feature Them

Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen
Wake up to a perfect breakfast with Mrs. Dalby’s Buttermilk Scones, courtesy of James Herriot’s All Things Bright and Beautiful and Ichabod’s Slapjacks, as featured in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. There’s homey comfort food like Connie May's Tomato Pie, created with and inspired by Connie May Fowler (Remembering Blue); Thanksgiving Spinach Casserole (Elizabeth Berg’s Open House); and Amish Chicken and Dumplings (Jodi Picoult's Plain Truth) . . . Sample salads, breads, and such soul-warming soups as Nearly-a-Meal Potato Soup (Terry Kay’s Shadow Song); Mr. Casaubon’s Chicken Noodle Soup (George Eliot’s Middlemarch); and Mrs. Leibowitz’s Lentil-Vegetable Soup (Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes) . . . After relishing appetizers and entrees, there’s a dazzling array of desserts, including Carrot Pudding (Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol); Effie Belle’s Coconut Cake (Olive Ann Burns’s Cold Sassy Tree); and the kids will love C.S. Lewis's Turkish Delight from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Sprinkled throughout with marvelous anecdotes about writers and writing, The Book Lover’s Cookbook is a culinary and literary delight, a browser’s cornucopia of reading pleasure, and a true inspiration in the kitchen.
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger enjoys creative cooking and writing children’s stories and articles. She is currently working on a novel. Her work has been published in Babybug, Ladybug, Wonder Years, American Careers, South Valley Living, and Short-Short Stories for Reading Aloud (The Education Center, 2000). She is an active member of the League of Utah Writers and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She regards her monthly book club meeting as one life’s essential ingredients.

Janet Kay Jensen is published in Healing Ministry journal and The Magic of Stories. She has received numerous awards for essays, poetry, and short stories, including three ByLine Magazine honorable mentions. A speech-language pathologist, she holds degrees from Utah State University and Northwestern University. She is writing a novel, teaches poetry classes to jail inmates, and is a literacy tutor. Married and the mother of three sons, she is a consultant at Utah State University.


Jo’s Best Omelette . . . Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
No Dieter’s Delight Chicken Neapolitan . . . Thinner by Stephen King
Extra-Special Rhubarb Pie . . . The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
Grand Feast Crab Meat Casserole . . . At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Persian Cucumber and Yogurt . . . House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
Tamales . . . Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Bev's No-Fuss Crab Cakes . . . Unnatural Exposure by Patricia Cornwell
Macaroni and Cheese . . . The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
Veteran Split Pea Soup . . . The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
Alternative Carrot-Raisin-Pineapple Salad . . . Midwives by Chris Bohjalian
Summer’s Day Cucumber-Tomato Sandwiches . . .
Women in Love by D. H. Lawrence
Refreshing Black Cows . . . The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
Dump Punch . . . Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Not Violet, But Blueberry Pie
. . . Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
Innocent Sweet Bread . . . The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Daddy's Rich Chocolate Cake . . . Fatherhood by Bill Cosby

. . . and many other delectable dishes for the literary palate!

From the Hardcover edition.



Breakfast at six-thirty. Skim milk, crusts, middlings, bits of doughnuts, wheatcakes with drops of maple syrup sticking to them, potato skins, leftover custard pudding with raisins, and bits of Shredded Wheat.

Breakfast would be finished at seven.

From seven to eight, Wilbur planned to have a talk with Templeton, the rat who lived under his trough.

About the jelly beans. On the Cheerios. I know this is probably not recommended by nutritionists. But I had never tried it before. And you never know. Somebody has to do the field-testing. The jelly beans were better than raisins, actually. If you want to check it out, I suggest the Jelly Belly brand, which comes in forty official flavors. My choice was a combination of apricot, banana, watermelon, and root beer. If you want a little zing in the mix, throw in a few jalapeno-flavored ones. A little Wow! In the Cheerios. A little whoopee in 0the minimum daily requirement.

When Black Mumbo saw the melted butter, wasn't she pleased! "Now," said she, "we'll all have pancakes for supper!"

So she got flour and eggs and milk and sugar and butter, and she made a huge plate of most lovely pancakes. And she fried them in the melted butter which the Tigers had made, and they were just as yellow and brown as little Tigers.

And then they all sat down to supper. And Black Mumbo ate twenty-seven pancakes, and Black Jumbo ate fifty-five, but Little Black Sambo ate a hundred and sixty-nine, because he was so hungry.
—Helen Bannerman, The Story of Little Black Sambo


Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
"I'll take the one on top."
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Teresa smiles and says,
"I'll take the one in the middle."
—Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Stack of Pancakes

2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon applesauce
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup

Beat the egg whites and sugar together in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks, flour, oil, applesauce, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla and mix until the batter is nearly smooth. Some small lumps will remain. Spoon the batter onto a greased hot griddle heated to about 375¡ (medium-high heat), making pancakes a manageable size. Flip each pancake when the batter is bubbled over the entire top and the edges are slightly dry (should take about 2 to 3 minutes). Cook the bottom until golden brown, about 1 minute.

Serve topped with butter or margarine, sliced bananas, and maple syrup.


Variation: Stir 1 cup of fresh blueberries into batter for blueberry pancakes.

Alternative Crepes

11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
Bananas, strawberries, and mango, sliced Blueberries, raspberries

Combine all the ingredients, except fruit, together in a large bowl and beat the batter until it is nearly smooth. Heat a greased, 8-inch crepe skillet to 400¡ or begin warming a large, greased frying pan over high heat with a tablespoon of butter or margarine. Spread the batter out in the pan to a 1Ú8-inch thickness, so that the finished crepe will be thin. Flip the crepe when the batter on top is completely bubbled and the edges are slightly dry, about 2 minutes. Cook the bottom until golden brown, about 1 minute. Place the crepe on a warmed plate. Repeat with the remaining batter. Wrap your choice of fresh fruit inside the crepes (sliced bananas, strawberries, mangos, blueberries, raspberries). Serve with maple syrup.


Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.
—Kathleen Norris

As Ichabod jogged slowly on his way, his eye, ever open to every symptom of culinary abundance, ranged with delight over the treasures of jolly autumn. On all sides he beheld vast stores of apples, some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees, some gathered into baskets and barrels for the market, others heaped up in rich piles for the cider press. Farther on he beheld great fields of Indian corn, with its golden ears peeping from hasty pudding; and the yellow pumpkins lying beneath them, turning up their fair round bellies to the sun, and giving ample prospects of the most luxurious of pies; and anon he passed the fragrant buckwheat fields, breathing the odor of the beehive, and as he beheld them, soft anticipations stole over his mind of dainty slapjacks, well buttered and garnished with honey or treacle, by the delicate little dimpled hand of Katrina Van Tassel.
—Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Behold! Ichabod's Slapjacks

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
21/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons honey
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
Butter or margarine
Maple syrup

Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well, scraping sides. Mixture will be somewhat thick. Spoon batter onto a greased griddle heated to about 375¡ (medium-high heat), making pancake a manageable size. Flip the pancake when batter is bubbled over the entire top and the edges are slightly dry (should take about 2 to 3 minutes). Cook bottom until golden brown, about 1 minute.

Serve topped with butter or margarine and maple syrup.


Next time you're browsing the shelves in a library, realize you're standing in the midst of a family discussion. —Kathleen Duey

She moved out of bed carefully, so as not to disturb Jesse. He stirred and opened his eyes. "Was it something I said?" he asked groggily.

"You're suffocating me," she whispered lovingly. On the way to the bathroom she had an idea. She'd make Jesse some waffles. Waffles and muffins and bacon and . . . That was probably enough. Oh, and orange juice and coffee. Coffee with cinnamon in it.

Maybe she shouldn't make waffles, though. Her slapstick tendencies had a habit of rearing their ugly heads during waffle preparation. Still, she wanted to do something nice for him. She'd been staring at him for half an hour, and now she'd sort of woken him up . . . All in all, she felt she owed him waffles. That big waffle gesture was the only one that would do. She smiled at her reflection, filled with enthusiasm of bold reserve.

Twenty minutes later, on the way to the hospital, Jesse said, "But why waffles? I don't even really like waffles."

"Look," said Suzanne stoically. "It's already starting to blister." She held up her left hand, with its domestic scar across the knuckles where the waffle iron had landed.
—Carrie Fisher, Postcards from the Edge


2 eggs plus 1 egg white, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
11/2 cups all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Maple syrup
Mangos, strawberries, or blueberries

Mix all the ingredients except syrup and fruit in a large bowl. Spray a waffle iron with cooking spray. Spoon the batter onto the heated waffle iron. Cook the waffle until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Serve with maple syrup and sliced mangos, strawberries, or blueberries.


I suggest that the only books that influence us are those for which we are ready, and which have gone a little further down our particular path than we have gone ourselves.
—E. M. Forster

Back in the kitchen, I gulp down another cup of coffee. Then I mix eggs and milk in a blue-and-yellow bowl that tiny shop in Paris, our weeklong vacation there, I stood at the window one morning after I'd gotten up and he came up behind me and put his arms around my middle, his lips to the back of my neck, add a touch of vanilla, a sprinkle of sugar. I put the frying pan on the stove put his lips to the back of my neck and we went back to bed, lay out two slices of bread on the cutting board. These hands at the ends of my wrists remove the crusts. I'm not sure why. Oh, I know why. Because they're hard.

I sit down at the table. Stand up. Sit down. Concentrate on my breathing, that's supposed to help.

Actually, it does not.
—Elizabeth Berg, Open House

Samantha's French Toast

4 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
A sprinkle of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
6 slices of dense bread Maple syrup

Mix the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon in a shallow, wide-bottomed bowl that is large enough to accommodate a slice of bread. Grease a griddle with melted butter or margarine, or use cooking spray. Heat the griddle to 350¡ (medium-high heat). Dip a slice of bread into the egg batter, coating both sides. Remove the bread and place it on the hot griddle. Brown the bread on both sides, cooking each side about 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve with maple syrup.


Variation: Top with maple syrup and berries of your choice: strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries.

"I shall take some up to mother, though she said we were not to think of her, for she'd take care of herself," said Meg, who presided and felt quite matronly behind the teapot.

So a tray was fitted out before anyone began, and was taken up with the cook's compliments. The boiled tea was very bitter, the omelet scorched, and the biscuits speckled with saleratus; but Mrs. March received her repast with thanks and laughed heartily over it after Jo was gone.
—Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Pray don't burn my house to roast your eggs.
—Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1757

When Tyler got home, he put a bag of groceries on the counter. The phone rang and he spoke into it with a low voice. "Tomorrow," she heard him say. "Yes. I promise." Edith felt so silly. She wanted to disappear. But she was much too big to disappear. She decided to make the best of it. She cooked an omelet. Edith was good with eggs and butter and her omelets were always tender and brown. "This is a symphony," said Tyler, taking a bite, "a poem and a symphony."

"This is my specialty," said Edith, proud and happy. "One of my specialties." And she ate her omelet with a big spoon. —Abigail Thomas, "Edith's Wardrobe (Negligee)" from Herb's Pajamas

Specialty Omelet

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red or green bell pepper, diced*
1/2 onion, chopped
15 large black olives, sliced
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon parsley
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a large nonstick skillet, saut? the pepper, onion, and olives in olive oil until tender over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the skillet and set aside in a bowl. Mix the eggs, milk, and spices in another bowl. Pour this mixture into the heated skillet. When the egg begins to solidify around the outer edges, lift its edges and tilt pan to allow uncooked egg mixture to slide from top of the omelet to underneath. Continue cooking. Sprinkle vegetables and cheese over the top of the cooking egg mixture. When the top of omelet appears moist and not wet, lift one side of the omelet with a wide spatula and fold it over onto the opposite edge. Cook one more minute, covered. Remove from heat.

Serve with toast and bacon or sausage.


* Filling for an omelet is entirely a matter of personal taste. Possible fillings include cooked sausage, saut?ed mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, green onions, fresh chives, broccoli, and cauliflower.

I really have to believe that the people I'm writing about are real, have their own wills, and I can't simply manipulate them.
—Peter S. Beagle

"Real men don't eat quiche," said Flex Crush, ordering a breakfast of steak, prime rib, six eggs, and a loaf of toast.

We were sitting in the professional drivers' section of an all-night truckers' pit stop somewhere west of Tulsa on I-44, discussing the plight of men in today's society. Flex, a 225-pound nuclear-waste driver, who claims to be one of the last Real Men in existence, was pensive:

"American men are all mixed up today," he began, idly cleaning the 12 gauge shotgun that was sitting across his knees. Off in the distance, the sun was just beginning to rise over the tractor trailers in the parking lot.

"There was a time when this was a nation of Ernest Hemingways. Real Men. The kind of guys who could defoliate an entire forest to make a breakfast fire-and then go on to wipe out an endangered species hunting for lunch. But not anymore. We've become a nation of wimps. Pansies. Quiche eaters, Alan Alda types-who cook and clean and relate to their wives, Phil Donahue clones-who are warm and sensitive and vulnerable. It's not enough anymore that we earn a living and protect women and children from plagues, famine, and encyclopedia salesmen. But now we're also supposed to be supportive. And understanding. And sincere."
—Bruce Feirstein, Real Men Don't Eat Quiche

A Real Man's Quiche

1 package refrigerated crescent rolls
3 cups cooked, shredded potatoes
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped green onions
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cooked meat: sausage, crumbled bacon, or diced ham

Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray. Press triangles of crescent roll dough into pie pan, sealing seams, to form a pie crust. Crimp edges. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl, stirring gently. Pour the mixture into the crust. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 400¡ for about 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes to brown crust. Quiche is done when center is firm.


From the Hardcover edition.
Author Q&A

Author Q&A


Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Book Lover’s Cookbook?
Shaunda Kennedy Wenger: In the fall of 1999, the idea for a literary cookbook took shape while I was reading a specific novel, Sue Miller’s While I Was Gone. Set in the East, this story’s setting mirrored my memories of off-campus living in a three-story Victorian at college. By the time the main character made chili with her housemate, Eli (a.k.a. murder suspect #1), the combination of vivid imagery and strong feelings of nostalgia left me feeling as if Miller had set her characters in my old house, in my old kitchen, with my old recipe—chili happened to be my specialty when I shared meals with my housemates. Naturally, I got up and looked for that old recipe, remembering that a housemate had written it down one evening while I prepared it several years before. Because I’m such a foodie, someone who would never dream of throwing away a recipe, I found it tucked in one of my cookbooks. Almost immediately, I began to wonder if authors routinely fed their characters well, and certain books that I’d read recently came to mind: Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees.

Q: How did the cookbook become a coauthored project?
SKW: From the moment the idea for the cookbook took shape, I believed this project begged for a coauthor—the very nature of reading and cooking leads to sharing with others, and good books and great recipes are almost always passed along to receptive hands. I shared the idea with my local group of writing colleagues in an e-mail to see if they thought the project was plausible. Out of the handful of responses, Janet’s included suggestions of several pertinent authors whose novels contained classic scenes pivoting around food: Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist and David Copper.eld. Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. Her enthusiasm was contagious, and our e-mails quickly bounced back and forth, listing possibilities of recipes and novels. I knew I’d found a kindred spirit and asked Janet if she’d like to step on board.

Q: Out of all the excerpts from books that you found during your research, did you get a sense of a unifying theme?
SKW: Food creates such vivid imagery for the reader that our minds can add details that aren’t even described by the author. We can smell the onions in Sue Miller’s While I Was Gone. We see the .aky frosting of Ef.e Belle’s coconut cake in Cold Sassy Tree (by Olive Anne Burns). We can hear the clink of the spoon against the soup bowl in George Eliot’s Middlemarch,and feel the butter coating our fingers from a hot ear of sweet corn in Sandra Brown’s The Alibi. With our senses turned on, it’s easy to step into the scene. And once we’ve stepped into it, we’ve opened ourselves up to making an emotional connection with the characters. Overall, I believe many of the passages we selected for this cookbook are hinged on emotional undercurrents. They stir up tension or show insight into a character’s desires. Although many aren’t centered on the emotional firestorm of a climax, they fan the emotional embers of character interaction and plot development. Ultimately, these scenes, set against familiarity, keep the pages turning.

Q: You’ve also included over a hundred quotes about reading and books. What led you to do that?
SKW: In doing our research, we found great quotes about books in literature and magazines. We decided to sprinkle them throughout the cookbook to share an overall excitement for books with our readers.

Q: Out of all you included, do you have a favorite quote?
SKW: At one of her readings in a California library, Isabel Allende said, “The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night.” I just love the thought of stories having lives of their own, lives that might carry on after the book is .nished, the cover closed.
Janet Kay Jensen: Maud Casey said, “I was born with a reading list I will never finish.” When I travel, I spend more time choosing the books I want to take than the clothes I need to pack!

Q: What is your favorite passage in The Book Lover’s Cookbook?
SKW: Each time I visit the cookbook my favorite changes. Today, during this hot, summer day in July, I’m drawn to Barbara Kingsolver’s excerpt about green beans, green tomatoes, and green tomato pies from The Bean Trees. It’s been my favorite before—because like the character, Mattie, I have a couple of gardens, and right now mine are bursting with blueberries,
raspberries, and gooseberries, as well as green beans, carrots, and herbs. Soon I’ll be harvesting broccoli, tomatoes, tomatillos, okra, watermelon, and corn. I can fully appreciate Mattie’s satisfaction in outthinking nature’s frost and utilizing every nugget offered up by her garden. By the end of this passage, sometimes I wish I knew my way to her apartment, so I could stop by for a visit to smell and see what treats Mattie might be baking.
JKJ: One of mine takes place in Roxanna’s kitchen in Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River, an allegorical story of a family’s journey to reconnect with one another and ultimately heal from the tragedies that have pursued them. In 1962, widowed Jeremiah Land and two of his children embark on a trek across wintry Minnesota and North Dakota in an Airstream trailer. In the excerpt we chose, Jeremiah, Reuben and Swede are stranded in a blizzard and taken in by Roxanna, a strong,capable woman with an intriguing history of her own. As they gather around a tempting meal of roasted chicken in Roxanna’s kitchen, a compelling scene unfolds: a strong and growing attraction between a man and a woman, a motherless boy’s longing for family and a stable home, and the safety and comfort of being inside while a blizzard rages outside.

Q: What are the most enjoyable recipes you developed in the course of writing the book?
SKW: “Turkish Delight” piqued my interest many years ago when I read C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Being a chocolate lover, I wrongly assumed at the time that this insatiable treat was something chocolatey. It’s actually a popular European, citrus-flavored gelatin dessert—harder than Jell-O, softer than hard candy. The most exciting part for me was discovering that eating it produced the same effect as Lewis described for Edmund: “Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious . . . the more he ate the more he wanted to eat. . . .” It’s a pleasure everyone should experience.
JKJ: I wasn’t a fan of chilled soups until I met Forney, Billie Letts’s librarian/cook in Where the Heart Is. “Forney’s Orange-Almond Bisque” resulted after a number of experimental batches. The cantaloupe balances the citrus nicely, and the yogurt gives it a creamy texture. I spent several days experimenting with custards until I was satis.ed with “Aunt Petunia’s Baked Custard Pudding,” based on the levitating dessert described in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Fortunately, the house elf Dobby wasn’t around to work the Hover Charm.

Q: Did you develop all of the recipes, or did some of the authors create recipes for the book?
SKW: We developed most of them, but some were contributed directly from the author whose passage we featured: Elizabeth Berg’s “Thanksgiving Spinach Casserole,” Jim Fergus’s “Nostalgic Coq au Vin,” Jodi Picoult’s “Amish Chicken and Dumplings” and “1-2-3-4 Cake,” Camron Steve Wright’s “Chocolate Pudding” and “Chocolate Souflé,” Judith Guest’s “Chocolate Pecan Pie,” Barbara Kingsolver’s “First Frost Green Tomato Pie,” Carolyn Campbell’s “Celebration Potatoes,” and M. L. Rose’s “Moon Pie Delight.” We also have a few recipes that involved working together with the contributing author on fine-tuning the recipe through correspondence, like Maeve Binchy’s “Almond- Bacon Wraps,” Kay Chorao’s “Chocolate Swirl Fudge Cake,” Connie May Fowler’s “Tomato Pie,” and Patricia Gaffney’s “Curried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Apples.” The enthusiasm and assistance from these authors was fantastic.
JKJ: Other recipes were derived directly from the text of the novel, like John Grisham’s “ ‘Good Life’ Veal Piccata” in The Firm, Louisa May Alcott’s “A Little Woman’s Butternut Bevy” in Little Women, and Patricia Cornwell’s “No-Fuss Crab Cakes” in Unnatural Exposure, where by following the character Bev’s instruction, I discovered that she’s a good cook! There also seems to be a trend for some authors (i.e., Fannie Flagg and Diane Mott Davidson) to include actual recipes in their books, an invitation for readers to be even more engaged with the characters and the story.

Q: If you could dine with an author, who would it be, and what would you have to eat?
SKW: That would have to be Elizabeth Berg. While reading Open House, as soon as Samantha raised her glass higher at King’s table for more wine and thought, This is my favorite restaurant, I said, “Take me there!” I’d love to pull up a chair at Berg’s table. I’d bring the wine—maybe a bottle of Robert Mondavi Coastal Sauvignon Blanc and a Louis Jadot Pinot Noir Bourgogne—and dessert, which would depend on the season. A honeydew melon Italian ice if it’s warm, or an apple-raisin-crumb pie if it’s chilly. And guests?! Maybe Barbara Kingsolver or Patricia Gaffney would be available.
JKJ: I’d like to break bread with Victor Hugo (Les Misérables), who said, “If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away.” I can imagine him instructing Madame Magloire to bring in the silver candlesticks. She would serve a simple meal: a marvelous fresh vegetable soup from her garden with hearty rye bread. I would love to paddle a raft on the Mississippi to join Mark Twain, Huck, and Jim (Huckleberry Finn) for some tender pork roast, cabbage, and cornbread, but I’d pass on the after-dinner corncob pipe. Then it would be on to Minnesota to meet Garrison Keillor (We Are Still Married ) to ask him to make me a perfect Lutheran apple pie. It would be a treat to spend a week in Diane Mott Davidson’s kitchen in Evergreen, Colorado, tasting, taking notes, and watching her create the tempting recipes she includes in her culinary mysteries—in this case, The Last Suppers. Goldie, a feisty heroine with a wry sense of humor, is a caterer who on an average day stumbles onto at least one crime scene but never, ever burns her cookies, which she selects according to the scruples of her clients. For example, her “Canterbury Jumbles,” which she serves at a church social, “had such a wonderful Anglican name the women would feel duty-bound to eat them.”

Q: How did you name the recipes?
JKJ: We tried to link the recipe directly to the plot, setting, a character, or a line of dialogue in the selected passage.
SKW: Naming recipes was the best part of writing the cookbook. Coming up with a suitable recipe title really cinched the connection between recipe and novel.

Q: Let’s explore this topic a little more. What are some examples of recipe titles that are tied into the plot or events in a novel?
JKJ: Although Bridget Jones (Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding) gets drunk while making her “Third-World–style ethnic family party” shepherd’s pie, we chose to name ours “Sober Shepherd’s Pie.”
SKW: That was intentional, of course. For the safety of our readers, we’d hate to promote reckless behavior, outside of .ction. Cooking is serious business. And with alcohol, even more so. [smile] And similar situations occurred with recipe titles such as “Specialty Omelet” (Little Women) and “Eli and Jo’s Innocent Vegetarian Chili” (While I Was Gone). In Little Women, Jo brings a burned breakfast to her mother, who’s ill. And in While I Was Gone, Eli is a suspect in the murder of one of his housemates. We didn’t want to suggest that our recipes would lead to disasters depicted in the stories we excerpted, although in the kitchen anything is possible. [smile]

Q: What are some examples of recipe titles that refer to a novel’s setting?
SKW: “Tianjin Dumplings” are named for a favorite meal that writer Adeline Yen Mah ate in China, before her childhood took a dreadful turn (Falling Leaves).
JKJ: Because James Michener’s Centennial is set in Colorado, we included the region’s geography in naming “Rocky Mountain Sourdough Starter” and “Rocky Mountain Sourdough Biscuits.”

Q: What are some examples of recipes that were named for specific characters?
JKJ: We couldn’t imagine another name for “Mrs. Liebowitz’s Lentil-Vegetable Soup” when we read the scene in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes where a compassionate neighbor brings hot soup to Frankie’s hungry, impoverished family. Frankie thinks it’s so delicious, he wonders if he can swap mothers with Freddie Liebowitz. He’s even willing to throw his little brothers in for free. “Brandy’s Tomato-Beef Soup” is named after one of veterinarian James Herriot’s favorite patients, a dog named Brandy who periodically raids the dustbin and gets a tomato soup can stuck on his nose. “Brandy the Dustbin Dog” is found in James Herriot’s Favorite Dog Stories.
SKW: In reviewing our list, I see many recipes are named for specific characters. I suppose the reason for this is that these novels introduced us to memorable characters. Naturally, we leaned toward naming the recipes after those who made them: “Miss Maudie’s Lane Cake” from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, “Emma’s Curried Shrimp with Snow Peas and Apples” from The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney, “Ruby’s Potato Salad” from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, “Effie Belle’s Coconut Cake” from Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns, and “Queen Nacha’s Tamales” from Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.

Q: What are you reading?
SKW: Looking at my shelf, I can see it’s stacked—well, overstocked—with novels I can’t wait to get to. Deafening by Frances Itani. The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. The Little Friend by Donna Tartt. The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman. These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. Right now, all these books are waiting for me to finish a great novel: Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik.
JKJ: As we each contributed different excerpts to the book, there are works represented in The Book Lover’s Cookbook that I haven’t read yet, so it’s my reading guide for the next couple of years. In addition, I just .nished Mary Webb’s lovely and poetic Precious Bane. On deck are A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on Her Diary by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields.

Q: What fostered your love of reading and literature?
SKW: My mother. She loved to read us bedtime stories. She read them from a large, bound book .lled with classic tales and poems. It had more words than pictures, but it still held our attention. My brother and I would crawl into her lap, tuck ourselves under the blankets, and listen to the story play out in the sound of her voice. As we came to know each story by
heart, we followed along with the words that .oated across my mother’s .ngertips. Before long, the words jumped out at us, familiar, like old friends, and the routine changed, with us reading the stories aloud to our mother. By the time I stood chest-high to the kitchen counter, I was also reading cookbooks with her, standing at her side while she cooked.
JKJ: My mother was a librarian and my father was a teacher; both of them were well-read. Memorizing classic poetry was part of their generation’s curriculum, so our exposure to great literature was early and continuous, too. That’s a wonderful legacy to share with your children.



“Rich in good food with a lively variety of literary links.”
–Associated Press

“Add a delectable new element to your next book club gathering.”
Trenton Times

“A cornucopia of authors who have a knack for getting the salivary glands going. . . . you’re sure to find something to satisfy the senses.”
–Chicago Tribune

  • The Book Lover's Cookbook by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen
  • March 29, 2005
  • Cooking
  • Ballantine Books
  • $18.00
  • 9780345465467

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