Alice in Wonderland Eats the White Rabbit

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As the autumn weather sharpens and cools, appetities increase and hearty meals are required. Alice thinks about the White Rabbit in another context, as dinner rather than a friend. Until the 1950s, when myxomatosis wiped out much of the UK’s bunnies, rabbits were considered an excellent, cheap protein source. Today, trendy eaters are turning again to this low-fat meat, which tends to be dry but is tasty when cooked in a sauce. Marks & Spencer reported a 20% increase in rabbit meat sales in 2014. Top chefs buy their rabbits from accredited game dealers; but there are still some rogue home cooks who might go out and hunt, then skin, their own, especially those which nibble parsely from their gardens. You can make a stew with red wine gravy, bacon, shallots, currant jelly and herbs; simmer the meat in coconut milk; or give it a good fry in buttermilk (Alice’s favorite preparation).

FRIED RABBIT:

Brine your rabbit for 12 hours in a mix of salt and water.

Mix buttermilk with cayenne, garlic powder, paprika and Italian seasoning mixture. Marinate in covered container overnight.

In hot oil (at least 325 degrees), fry rabbit pieces gently–don’t let them sizzle too much. Turn; then repeat for another 12 minutes. Drain on rack before serving at room temperature. 1 rabbit will serve 2-3 people. (For the traditionalist, this works for chicken too).

Southern Fried Rabbit

 

 

Jane Eyre Reviews The Grace of the Hunchback

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When I was growing up in the 1830s, very few women could read or write, not even to sign their names on a marriage register. Throughout the century female literacy continued to improve so that by 1900 it had increased to almost 97 percent. As a reflection of this, penny dreadfuls, or slender novels with melodramatic themes, available for a penny apiece, aimed at the female market, began to grow in popularity.

Currently, The Grace of the Hunchback by Annabelle Troy, is on sale on amazon for 99 cents–the modern equivalent of a penny. Though slender in size, it is no cheap romance. Rather, it is the fictionalized version of the real life of influential ballerina Marie Taglioni, born in 1804. Under the guidance of her father, a dictatorial choreographer, she pioneeres the romantic style of ballet: dancing en pointe, ethereality mixed with athleticism, white tutus, heroines dying for love. Marie always wants to be loved herself but this eludes her. On stage she is considered to be beautiful; offstage she disappoints men with her plain looks and shyness. She marries a heartless French aristocrat who uses her for her money; they divorce after having two children. Marie tries to recover from her heartbreak by dancing in triumph in Russia, before ultmately retiring to Lake Como. Late in life, when she is in her seventies, she loses all of her money and teaches at a girls’ school in London. She never stoppes loving her husband, even though she realizes what she actually craves is a male ideal rather than an actual relationship. Her story is contrasted with that of her former maid, Lucette, who becomes a successful prostitute in the Paris demimonde. This part was a little wicked for me, sometimes inducing a blush, but I do acknowledge that it added a little spice.

Below is the link to the book. I wish you joyful reading. And remember to be grateful that you can read at all.

 

Couture Ice Cream with Madame Bovary

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Fashion week, showcasing styles for spring 2015, runs from Sept. 5-11 in NYC.

In my novel Jane Eyre Gets Real, it is Jane who is known for becoming a businesswoman during her stay in contemporary New York. But Emma Bovary also possesses the touch of an entrepreneur, and shows it by creating ice cream novelties inspired by designers, past and present. Teen model Alice in Wonderland takes a break from the catwalk to help her sell them on the street, via a trendy chartreuse truck–because pink is so last season–during the heat of fashion week.

 

Some of Emma’s favorite creations:

THE COCO CHANEL: 2 scoops of black licorice ice cream in a sugar cone, covered in edible silver “pearls”

THE ALEXANDER WANG: bright lime sherbert sprinkled with coarse sea salt and served in between chocolate sandwich cookies

THE CALVIN KLEIN: vanilla soft serve in a white plastic cup

A model walks the runway at the Calvin Klein Collection fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 at Spring Studios on September 12, 2013 in New York City.

THE MARC JACOBS: Blue Moon and lavender ice cream sundae laced with dark melted chocolate and topped with a ribbon of gummi candy

 

Heidi Goes Back to School

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The Swiss have always been pioneers in children’s education. In the early 19th century educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi founded several schools throughout Switzerland with the motto “Learning by head, hand and heart”. By 1830 illiteracy in that country was almost completely wiped out.  Today Switzerland is known for its expensive private schools and for “alternative” educational methods, such as holding kindergarten in a pine forest:

http://vimeo.com/32463946

So it’s no wonder Heidi is looking forward to attending fourth grade in contemporary New York City. Here are some essential items she will need to survive.

Humorous cat tee:

Hello Kitty pencil box, because every girl needs a touch of retro whimsy:

A backpack–The North Face makes kids’ sizes; hardy AND pastel:

 

Sherlock Holmes Reviews Magic in the Moonlight

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It was with some trepidation that I ventured out to see the latest Woody Allen film; I don’t enjoy cinema at the best of times and I had the feeling that this movie was going to be more predictable than most. I was right. If the intention was to create a treacly confection, with beautiful scenery, unbelievable sentiments and a paper-thin plot, the director did a remarkable job.

Nor was I impressed by the acting of Miss Stone. I had been told, by Hester Prynne who was most taken with Stone’s portrayal of a beleagured young virgin in something called Easy A, that she is an exceptional actress. Here, she played a tomboyish Daisy Miller-type heroine all too well, without any of the mystery or nuance that would have made the sophisticated hero’s love for her seem realistic.

The one thing that kept me engrossed was Colin Firth. In his depiction of a professional magician who longs in some secret part of himself to believe in miracles, I found, I must confess, some resonance with my own private longings. Like him, I don’t yield easily–to clairvoyants, or redheads, or love. Unlike him I am not sure I wish to; cocaine, my friendship with Watson–which is NOT, I hasten to assure you, a “man crush” as Dorian Gray calls it–and my violin have proved to be enough. It will have to be an exceptional blue moon which changes THAT.

Jane Eyre Grills Cheese

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When the porridge is burnt at Lowood School, kindly teacher Miss Temple gives the girls, including Jane, bread and cheese instead. This prompts the following words from Mr. Brocklehurst,  the evil principal:  “Oh, madam, when you put bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge, into these children’s mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!”
Jane isn’t buying it. Once she gets to New York City, it amuses her to find that artisinal grilled cheese has becoming the biggest food trend since gourmet burgers. Her favorite 5 step recipe:

1. Butter two thick slices of good country bread.

2. Set more butter to sizzling in a hot pan. Lay one slice of bread, butter side down, in the pan. Top the bread with sharp cheddar cheese.  Add anything fancy you please, such as sauteed mushrooms, slices of tomato, or even something really exotic like mango.

3. Set the other piece of bread on top of it, and gently, very gently, press it down with a spatula. You don’t want to flatten it too much or else it will become a panini–then what would Mr. Brocklehurst say?

4.  Wait one minute, then flip sandwich over.  Let the other side brown, too.

5. Once your sandwich is a soft toasty gold, finish it by placing it on a baking sheet in a warm oven. 

Jane serves this to Heidi with tomato soup, Campbell’s I’m afraid. Dorian likes his with a good stiff Bloody Mary.  Just remember: don’t eat grilled cheese after midnight. Victorians believed this would bring about dreams of Lucifer.

Written in the Stars: What are the Astrology Signs of Jane Eyre/Madame Bovary?

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Literary characters have birthdays like everybody else. And sun signs. Since specific birthdays are rarely mentioned in print, the trick is to figure out when our favorite protagonists might have born based on their temperments and inclinations.

Here’s my best guess:

VIRGO: JANE EYRE–gentle, with love of duty and heart of gold, studious and accomplished, who comes up from behind; Cinderella was also a Virgo

ARIES: EMMA BOVARY–impetuous, impatient, idealistic; Aries is the sign most likely to get into significant debt and they live for whirlwind romance

SCORPIO: HESTER PRYNNE–intense, smouldering and never lets anything go. Obsessed with birth, death, love, guilt

SAGITTARIOUS: HEIDI–outgoing, loyal, friendly; loves travel and athletic pursuits such as rambling after goats up the Swiss Alps

AQUARIUS: ALICE IN WONDERLAND–free-spirited, offbeat and dreamy, like her creator Lewis Carroll; Aquarian women are known for being the most beautiful of all the zodiac

Now for the guys:

CAPRICORN, SHERLOCK HOLMES–as literary legend would have it, Holmes was born on Jan. 6, 1854. He is definitely saturnine–dark, moody, and he loves a mystery. Male capricorns also have a lot of mother/female issues

CANCER, DAVID COPPERFIELD–we know he was born at midnight, on a Friday, with a caul over his head. He’s also a moon child, with his ready sentimentality and love of water (his first love is a fisherman’s daughter). And he winds up prosperous in the end.

GEMINI, DORIAN GRAY–charming liar with dual personalities and expensive tastes. What else could he be?

 As for MR. DARCY, I am guessing Libra. What do you think?